robertogreco + civics   144

Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
6 Kinds of Public - Dilettante Army
Long ago, I adopted the moniker “dilettante ventures” as a frame for my cultural activity. At the time it was envisioned as a collective comprised of three other art and curatorial collectives. Much like this journal seeks to do, I spent a fair amount of time trying to rehabilitate the word “dilettante.” Lately though, I’ve given up on worrying about that sort of framing, because now I have to rehabilitate another word—“republican.” In November 2018, I was elected to the Vermont State Legislature. As a candidate, I appeared on the ballot as the nominee of two political parties—the Democrats and the Progressives. But to be accurate about my political philosophy, I am a decentralist communitarian republican. Identifying as small-r republican, even though it isn’t the same as being a capital-r Republican, can be problematic for me. On my winding trajectory from an artist-that-doesn’t-make-art to a librarian/legislator, I’ve investigated how republican themes of interdependence, virtue, and civic responsibility might be usefully employed in the (neo)liberal political quagmire we find ourselves. Here are the key concepts I use to understand the links between art and community-making in a new era of progressive politics:

Public Art, new genre



Public Culture



Public Good, scale of



Public Library



Public Philosophy



Public Realm



Public Work



Public work brings me back to the inadequacy of social practice (art). I have proposed “social poiesis” as an alternative. “Poiesis” is a word, mostly used in literary theory, that describes creative production, in particular the creation of a work of art. “Social poiesis,” then, encompasses not only the production of art and art environments, but also the creative production of society through things like urban planning, sports leagues, communes, be-ins, residencies, raves, state fairs, theme parks, cults, encounter groups, Chautauquas, and even legislating. Governance, properly undertaken, is public work, positing “citizens as co-creators of the world.” This world of artistic citizenship demands a variety of public actions and inquiry, some of which I’ve touched on here. Above all it demands a reevaluation of the promise and potential of a revived republican spirit."
randallszott  public  publics  republican  2019  suzannelacy  roberthariman  montesquieu  thomasaugst  williamsullivan  libraries  publiclibraries  hannaharendt  harryboyte  publicwork  publicrealm  philosophy  socialpracticeart  art  publigood  publicculture  culture  republicanism  community  decentralization  interdependence  virtue  civics  governance  neoliberalism  liberalism  progressive  progressivism  vermont 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Philanthropy Con | Dissent Magazine
"Alongside the privileges our tax system has provided to the rich, we have imported into our welfare system charity’s penchant for humiliating the poor. To be sure, for centuries welfare programs have often rested on the assumption that poverty is a personal failing. But the conservative war on “entitlements” brought new sophistication to this old tradition. Multiple states now require welfare recipients to pass drug tests, even though their rates of drug use are demonstrably much lower than the general population. We have insisted to a mother left quadriplegic by a hit-and-run driver that her family sell their cars, so as to be adequately indigent as to receive public benefits. We have, just this year, placed work requirements upon Medicaid.

The implied question that these policies ask is whether beneficiaries warrant our sympathy. Are they hard working enough, morally upright enough, destitute enough? These questions are patronizing—literally, the questions a patron asks of a supplicant.

Sympathy is a fine criterion for charity. It need not and should not be the standard for government benefits. Instead of worrying whether other people are worthy of being our dependents, we could ask what we must provide so that people have their independence: the independence that freedom from want provides. That was the logic behind Social Security and Medicare, two programs that are bureaucratic without being insulting to their recipients. The impressive voter participation rates of older people are in part a consequence of Social Security; until the program was established, a third of elderly people lived in poverty, and older Americans participated in politics less than the young. Entitlement programs do more than allow people to live with dignity. At their best, they can make better citizens.

By its nature, charity reinforces social inequities and encourages a deference to wealth incompatible with democratic citizenship. In a healthy democracy, taxes should be as “uncharitable” as possible: based in solidarity, not condescension for the poor and privilege for the rich. The first step is to recognize what opponents of democratic governance understood hundreds of years ago: that democratic taxation has within it the power of emancipation."
philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  inequality  democracy  2019  vanessawilliamson  taxes  society  governance  government  citizenship  civics 
march 2019 by robertogreco
White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege - Los Angeles Times
"Greg and Sarah live in a predominantly white neighborhood and send their children to a predominantly white private school. “I don’t want to believe we are hypocrites,” Greg tells me. “But if we say diversity is important to us, but then we didn’t stick around in the place that was diverse, maybe we are?” He looks at Sarah. “I dunno,” he continues, “I guess we made decisions based on other things that were more important. But what does that say about us then?”

For two years I conducted research with 30 affluent white parents and their kids in a Midwestern metropolitan area. Over and over I heard comments like Greg’s reflecting a deep ambivalence: As progressive parents, is their primary responsibility to advance societal values ­— fairness, equal opportunity and social justice — or to give their children all the advantages in life that their resources can provide?

More often than not, values lost out.

Parents I interviewed felt conflicted about using their social status to advocate for their kids to have the “best” math teacher, because they knew other kids would be stuck with the “bad” math teacher. They registered the unfairness in leveraging their exclusive social networks to get their teenagers coveted summer internships when they knew disadvantaged kids were the ones who truly needed such opportunities. They felt guilty when they protectively removed their children from explicitly racist and contentious situations because they understood that kids of color cannot escape racism whenever they please. Still, those were the choices they made.

Parents felt caught in a conundrum of privilege — that there was an unavoidable conflict between being a good parent and being a good citizen. These two principles don’t have to be in tension, of course. Many parents, in fact, expressed a desire to have their ideals and parenting choices align. In spite of that sentiment, when it came to their own children, the common refrain I heard was, “I care about social justice, but — I don’t want my kid to be a guinea pig.”

In other words, things have been working out pretty well for affluent white kids, so why rock the boat? And so parents continue to make decisions — about where to buy a house, which school seems best, or whether robotics club or piano lessons is a better after-school activity — that extend the advantages of wealth. Those choices, however, have other consequences: They shape what children think about race, racism, inequality and privilege far more than anything parents say (or do not say).

Children reach their own conclusions about how society works, or should work, based on their observations of their social environment and interactions with others — a process that African American studies scholar Erin Winkler calls “comprehensive racial learning.” So how their parents set up kids’ lives matters deeply.

Some children in my study, for instance, came to the conclusion that “racism is over” and that “talking about race makes you racist” — the kind of sentiments that sociologists identify as key features of colorblind racism. These were kids who were growing up in an almost exclusively white, suburban social environment outside the city.

The kids who lived in the city but attended predominantly white private schools told me that they were smarter and better than their public schools peers. They also thought they were more likely to be leaders in the future. One boy said proudly, “My school is not for everyone” — a statement that reflected how thoroughly he’d absorbed his position in the world in relation to others.

And yet, other white kids living in the city concluded that racism “is a way bigger problem than people realize. … White people don’t realize it… because they are scared to talk about it.” These young people spoke passionately about topics like the racial wealth gap and discrimination. They observed how authority figures such as teachers and police officers treated kids of color differently. They more easily formed interracial friendships and on occasion worked with their peers to challenge racism in their community. These were children who were put in racially integrated schools and extracurricular activities purposefully by their parents.

Still, even some of those parents’ actions reproduced the very forms of inequality they told me they intellectually rejected. They used connections to get their children into selective summer enrichment programs or threatened to leave the public school system if their children were not placed in honors or AP courses that they knew contributed to patterns of segregation. So even as parents promoted to their kids the importance of valuing equality, they modeled how to use privilege to get what you want. White kids absorbed this too; they expected to be able to move easily through the world and developed strategies for making it so.

If affluent, white parents hope to raise children who reject racial inequality, simply explaining that fairness and social justice are important values won’t do the trick. Instead, parents need to confront how their own decisions and behaviors reproduce patterns of privilege. They must actually advocate for the well-being, education and happiness of all children, not just their own.

Being a good parent should not come at the expense of being — or raising — a good citizen. If progressive white parents are truly committed to the values they profess, they ought to consider how helping one’s own child get ahead in society may not be as big a gift as helping create a more just society for them to live in in the future."
education  parenting  politics  progressive  2018  margarethagerman  schools  schooling  socialjustice  race  racism  privilege  cv  affluence  inequality  privateschools  segregation  civics  society  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy.
"It’s the holidays, and you long to be cozy.

You want to curl up in a plush armchair next to a crackling fire. You want the softest of blankets and wooliest of sweaters. You want to devour grandma’s pecan fudge, get tipsy on eggnog with your cousins, and watch Miracle on 34th Street — mom’s favorite — for the thirty-fourth time. Or maybe neither Christmas nor family gatherings are your thing, but you like the idea of sipping hot toddies and playing board games with a few close friends while outside the snow falls and the lights twinkle.

But you can’t have it, because you couldn’t spring for a plane ticket. Or relatives are in town, but times are tight, and it seemed irresponsible to pass up the Christmas overtime pay. Maybe everything circumstantially fell into place, but you can’t relax. You’re eyeing your inbox, anxious about the work that’s not getting done. You’re last-minute shopping, pinching pennies, thinking Scrooge had some fair points. Or you’re hiding in your childhood bedroom, binge-watching television and scrolling social media, because a rare break from the pressures of daily life feels more like an occasion to zone out than to celebrate and be merry.

Either way, you feel terrible, because you know that someone somewhere is literally roasting chestnuts on an open fire, and you’re missing out.

The Danes have a word for the thing you desperately want but can’t seem to manifest: hygge.

The word isn’t easy to translate. It comes from a Norwegian word that means “wellbeing,” but the contemporary Danish definition is more expansive than that.

In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author Meik Wiking writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allowed to let our guard down.”

You can have hygge any time, but Danes strongly associate it with Christmas, the most hyggelig time of the year. When asked what things they associate most with hygge, Danes answered, in order of importance: hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, sweets and cake, cooking, and books. Seven out of ten Danes say hygge is best experienced at home, and they even have a word for it — hjemmehygge, or home hygge.

But Wiking stresses that while hygge has strong aesthetic properties, it’s more than the sum of its parts. You don’t just see it, you feel it.

“Hygge is an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are,” he writes, “that you have expanded your comfort zone to include other people and you feel you can be completely yourself around other people.” The opposite of hygge is alienation.

It’s no coincidence that this concept is both native to and universally understood in the same country that consistently dominates the World Happiness Report and other annual surveys of general contentment. On rare occasions when Denmark is surpassed by another country, that country is always a Scandinavian neighbor.

What makes people in these countries happier than the rest of us is actually really simple. Danes and their neighbors have greater access to the building blocks of happiness: time, company, and security.

Scandinavians don’t have these things just because they value them more, or for cultural reasons that are congenital, irreplicable, and beyond our reach. People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy.

The Politics of Hygge

Denmark is not a socialist country, though like its neighbor Sweden, it did come close to collectivizing industry in the 1970s. That effort was driven by “unions, popular movements, and left parties,” write Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl in Jacobin. “It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world.”

A strong capitalist offensive stopped this Scandinavian coalition from realizing the transition to socialism, and the legacy of their efforts is a delicate compromise. The private sector persists, but taxes are both progressive and high across the board. The country spends 55 percent of its total GDP publicly, making it the third-highest government spender per capita in the world. Meanwhile, the power of employers is partially checked by strong unions, to which two-thirds of Danes belong.

This redistributive arrangement significantly reduces the class stratification that comes from capitalism. As a result, Denmark has one of the highest degrees of economic equality in the world.

All of that public spending goes to funding a strong welfare state. Everybody pays in, and everybody reaps the rewards. This egalitarian, humane, and solidaristic model allows the values associated with hygge to flourish. It also gives people more opportunities to act on them.

In Denmark, health care is free at the point of service. Same goes for education, all the way through college and even grad school. Twenty percent of the Danish housing stock is social housing, regulated and financially supported by the state but owned in common by tenants, and organized in the “tradition of tenants’ participation and self-governance.” Denmark offers year-long paid parental leave, and guarantees universal child care for all children beginning the moment that leave ends, when the child is one year old.

Similarly, due in large part to the past and and present strength of unions, Denmark has worker-friendly labor laws and standards which make for a more harmonious work-life balance. Danes get five weeks’ paid vacation, plus an additional nine public holidays. Unlike the United States, Denmark has a national paid sick-leave policy. Denmark also has generous unemployment benefits and a wage subsidy program for people who want to work but, for reasons outside their control, need more flexible arrangements.

The normal work week in Denmark is set at thirty-seven hours, and people tend to stick to it. Only 2 percent of Danes report working very long hours. In a survey of OECD countries Denmark ranked fourth for people spending the most time devoted to leisure and personal care. (The US ranked thirtieth.)

All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

For one thing, there are only so many hours in a day. And there are some activities that make us happy, and some that make us unhappy.

The Princeton Affect and Time Survey found that the activities that make us happiest include playing with children, listening to music, being outdoors, going to parties, exercising, hanging out with friends, and spending time with pets. (These are also the activities that Danes associate with hygge.) The ones that make us least happy include paid work, domestic work, home maintenance and repairs, running errands, personal medical care, and taking care of financial responsibilities.

Everyone has to do activities in the unhappy category in order to keep their affairs in order. But it makes sense that if you take some of those responsibilities off people’s plate and design the economy to give them more time to do activities in the happy category, they will be more content and lead more enriching lives.

Many working-class Americans don’t have much time for activities in the happy category, because they work multiple jobs or long hours and also have to keep a household in order without much assistance. Many more are afraid that if they take time away from their stressful responsibilities, they will overlook something important and fall behind, and there will be no social safety net to catch them — a pervasive anxiety that creeps up the class hierarchy. This breeds alienation, not intimacy.

Additionally, working people in highly capitalist countries, where economic life is characterized by cutthroat competition and the punishment for losing the competition is destitution, tend to develop hostile relationships to one another, which is not very hyggelig.

The social-democratic model is predicated instead on solidarity: my neighbor and I both pay taxes so that we can both have a high standard of living. We care for each other on the promise that we will each be cared for. By working together instead of against each other, we both get what we need. Universal social programs like those that make up the Scandinavian welfare states are thus engines of solidarity, impressing upon people that their neighbor is not an opponent or an obstacle, but a partner in building and maintaining society.

By pitting people against each other, neoliberal capitalism promotes suspicion and animosity. This frequently maps onto social divisions and manifests as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and so on. But it also just makes people guarded and antisocial in general. People who live in social democracies are far from invulnerable to prejudice or misanthropy, but the social compact remains more likely to promote kindness, trust, and goodwill among people than neoliberal capitalism — and indeed the Danes are some of the most trusting people in the world, of friends and strangers alike.

One of these political-economic arrangements strengthens people’s connection to the fundamentals of happiness, and of hygge — time, company, and security — while the other severs it. The abundance or scarcity of these fundamentals forms the material basis of collective social life.

The Ambiance Agenda

Hygge is not just a cultural … [more]
hygge  meaganday  2018  denmark  socialdemocracy  socialism  socialsafetynet  politics  policy  happiness  comfort  us  coreyrobin  scandinavia  solidarity  wellbeing  responsibility  uncertainty  anxiety  neoliberalism  capitalism  risk  civics  qualityoflife  pleasure  multispecies  family  trust  intimacy  peaceofmind  leisure  work  labor  health  healthcare  unions  time  slow  fragility  taxes  inequality  company  security 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Nick Kaufmann on Twitter: "Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although
[this is the event:
https://architecture.mit.edu/computation/lecture/playing-city-building ]

[thread contains many images]

"Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although it's only what i could grasp in an hour or so.

https://twitter.com/nickkauf/status/1071162000145817601
At @mitsap tonight tweeting about Jennifer Light's lecture "playing at city building" #urbanism #education #civictech

Light opened the talk with the observation that more disciplines are looking to study history to "look forward by looking backward" #civicfutures #usablepast

In #civictech we know this isnt the first government reform movement with a "techie spin" in the world or us. At the last turn of the century, anxieties about cities birthed the "good government movement" the "googoos" were reformers kinda like #civichackers of today

Like @codeforamerica and also #smartcities boosters, the goo-goos believed scientific models and tech tools were a source of progress. They were worried about "boss rule" and wanted to "rationalize government" compare to cfa's mottos today

After discussing the good govt movement, Lights set the historical context of shifting expectations around young people's behavior. Child labor laws did not stop children from working however, it was just framed as "play" now

In this context early models of vocational education and educational simulations emerged, including William R. George's "model republic" movement. @Erie @pahlkadot model republics were all over the usa, not as franchised like #cfabrigade but more grassroots diffusion of the idea

There were miniature republics run by children in boston(Cottage Row), Cleveland (Progress City) Philadelphia (Playground City), etc, where children worked as real pretend public servants

media coverage of the time hailed these civic simulations as educational opportunity/chance for a "second life" for youth. Some of the tenement kids that George put into his program ended up in ivy league schools, and as lawyers, Pub. Servants and admins of their own model cities

The educational theories at the time of the model republics were very similar to today's trends of "gamification" "experiential learning" etc. Light referenced Stanley Hall (imitation/impersonation) and 'identity play'

Long before Bateson and Goffman were muddling the boundary between seriousness/play, model republics were also using that ambiguity to educate and also cut costs of programs literally built and maintained by children. Imagine 1000 kids and 3 admins

John Dewey's philosophy of learning by doing was also heavily referenced in the talk, as George took great inspiration from him and Dewey was a supporter of the model republics.

Light stressed just how much model republic citizens did in their pretend-real jobs, building housing, policing, data collection, safety inspections, and they did it so well that they often circumvented the adult systems. Why send some1 to adult court when junior court works?

This dynamic reminded me so much of #civichackers today with our pretend jobs and weekly hack night play that quickly turns into real jobs for our cities

Another point Light made was that the model republics were very much about assimilation of immigrants into a certain set of white american middleclass values. But before rise of consumerism those values heavily emphasized DIY/activecitizenship/production.

One reason for the decline of the model republics might have been the rise of consumerism and passive consumption valued over production. But we still have things like model U.N. and vocational programs, vestiges of this time.

Again today we have a perceived need to train people for the "new economy", so what can #civictech #civicinnovation #smartcities learn from looking back to historical examples? For one thing, we learn that youth contribution to civic innovation is important and undervalued

When model republics were introduced into schools the educational outcomes were not the only advantage, they saved schools gobs of money through "user generated" labor. Again think about civictech volunteerism today...

At Emerson School, Light said, kids were even repairing the electrical system. And in some cities kids would stand in for the mayor at real events.

Heres a page describing the establishment of a self-governing body of newsboys in Milwaukee https://www.marquette.edu/cgi-bin/cuap/db.cgi?uid=default&ID=4167&view=Search&mh=1

Light closed the talk by remarking on the "vast story of children's unacknowledged labor in the creation of urban America". slide shows how their labor was hidden behind play. Although they couldnt work in factories,can you call it "play" if it involved *building* the playground?

Although Light's upcoming book focuses on America, she said there were civic simulations like this in many countries including the Phillipines, China, England, France...

Model republics were not however a well connected, branded international civic movement like modern #civictech. Light said that while they were promoted at national educational conferences on education or public housing, George lamented not having control of the brand/vision

The result of George's lack of guidelines and a organizational network of model republic practiciorners was many different, idiosyncratic models run by different ppl in different places. @pahlkadot George really needed a "National Advisory Council" it seems!

For example an Indiana model republic the kids put on their own circuses! George thought some model republics werent following his original values/vision but couldnt do much about it...another theme in #civictech now Fortunately @Open_Maine is allowed to be weirdos too @elburnett

Light emphasized that although the model republics were a tool to assimilate children into a set of values (presumably including colonial, racist, patriarchal, capitalist ones) they were also a site of agency where kids experimented and innovated.

For example, girls in coeducational model republics held public offices and launched voting rights campaigns before the women' suffrage movement gained the rights in the "real" world. Given the power of the republics to do real work this wasnt just a symbolic achievement.

George for his part believed that the kids should figure out model republics for themselves, even if it meant dystopian civics. One model republic kept prisoners in a literal iron cage before eventually abolishing the prison.

Light's talk held huge lessons for the #civictech movement, and the model republic movement is just one of many pieces of history that can be a "usable past" for us. every civic tech brigade should have a "historian" role!

At @Open_Maine weve always been looking back to look forward although I didnt have the "usable past" vocabulary until I saw professor Light's talk today. @ajawitz @elburnett and I have consciously explored history in promoting civic tech in Maine.Other brigades are doing this too

For example, early @Open_Maine (code for maine) posters consciously referenced civilian conservation corps aesthetic #usablepast

We also made a 100y link w/ charitable mechanics movement @MaineMechanics makerspace never happened but @semateos became president and aligned org. with modern #makermovement. we host civichackathons there. #mainekidscode class is in same room that held free drawingclass 100y ago

So you can see why Light's talk has my brain totally buzzing. After all, @Open_Maine has been dreaming of #civicisland, an experiential #civictech summer camp! Were currently applying to @MozOpenLeaders to develop open source experiential civictech curricula we could use for it.

Next steps here: I want to write an article about the "usable past" concept for #civictech. So if your brigade is engaged with history I wanna talk to you. @JBStephens1 was it you talking about the rotary club model on slack? @CodeForPhilly didnt you make a history timeline?"
nickkaufmann  urbanism  urban  cities  jenniferlight  children  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  civics  civictech  technology  history  codeforamerica  smartcities  boston  cleveland  philadelphia  williamgeorge  modelrepublics  simulations  simulation  gregorybateson  play  seriousplay  seriousness  education  johndewey  milaukee  labor  work  colinward  thechildinthecity  housing  governance  policy  activism  participatory  participation  experimentation  experience  experientiallearning  volunteerism  makerspaces  openmaine  maine  learning  howwelearn  ervinggoffman 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Playing at City Building | MIT Architecture
"A century ago, American children regularly played at city building in schools and youth serving institutions. Much of this activity took the form of “junior republics” – miniature cities, states, and nations run by kids. With supervising adults in the background, the young officials made laws, took civil service exams, paid taxes, ran restaurants, printed newspapers, and role played other civic activities. This talk, which draws on my forthcoming book States of Childhood, explores the historical and contemporary significance of these participatory simulations. I'll argue that the history of the republic movement helps to make visible children’s widespread contributions to American city building, and how their varied contributions were rendered invisible through an earlier era’s discourse about simulation and play. I'll also discuss the republic movement's resonances with a range of contemporary techniques and technologies from role playing and gamification to virtual worlds and augmented reality games, and suggest how recent work in the history of computing and information technology is making available new bodies of theoretical and empirical research for scholars and practitioners seeking a “usable past.”

Playing at City Building
A century ago, American children regularly played at city building in schools and youth serving institutions. Much of this activity took the form of “junior republics” – miniature cities, states, and nations run by kids. With supervising adults in the background, the young officials made laws, took civil service exams, paid taxes, ran restaurants, printed newspapers, and role played other civic activities. This talk, which draws on my forthcoming book States of Childhood, explores the historical and contemporary significance of these participatory simulations. I'll argue that the history of the republic movement helps to make visible children’s widespread contributions to American city building, and how their varied contributions were rendered invisible through an earlier era’s discourse about simulation and play. I'll also discuss the republic movement's resonances with a range of contemporary techniques and technologies from role playing and gamification to virtual worlds and augmented reality games, and suggest how recent work in the history of computing and information technology is making available new bodies of theoretical and empirical research for scholars and practitioners seeking a “usable past.”

Jennifer Light

Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society; Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology; Professor of Urban Studies and Planning
Jen Light’s eclectic interests span the history of science and technology in America over the past 150 years. She is the author of three books as well as articles and essays covering topics from female programming pioneers, to early attempts to organize smart cities, to the racial implications of algorithmic thinking in federal housing policy, to the history of youth political media production, to the uptake of scientific and technical ideas and innovations across other fields. Professor Light is especially fascinated by smart peoples’ bad ideas: efforts by well-intentioned scientists and engineers to apply scientific methods and technological tools to solve social and political problems—and how the history of their failures can inform contemporary scientific and engineering practice.

Light holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge. She has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study and the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. Her work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and honored with the Catherine Bauer Wurster Prize from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History and an honorary doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Light serves on the editorial boards IEEE Annals of the History of Computing; Information and Culture; Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences; and Journal of Urban History. Professor Light was previously on the faculty of the School of Communication and the Departments of History and Sociology at Northwestern University."
jenniferlight  2018  children  youth  teens  urban  urbanism  cityplanning  cities  citybuilding  schools  education  civics  modeling  participatory  simulations  participation  government  governance  democracy  politics  computing  technology  society  history  via:nickkaufmann  childhood  play  roleplaying  gamification  virtualworlds  worldbuilding 
december 2018 by robertogreco
MIT SHASS: Election Insights 2018 - Jennifer Light - On Social Media and Youth Political Engagement
"Young people in the United States have always been politically active and have long been early adopters of new technologies. Kids of all ages, including those too young to vote, have been making political media for at least the past 150 years."



"These past patterns foreground important choices to be made about media policy and the design of media systems — choices that will determine whether youth political participation in the digital age follows a different path. Examining these patterns also reminds us that history can be an unexpectedly valuable resource for thinking about the future of technology in the United States."
jenniferlight  civics  youth  children  teens  history  politics  us  activism  technology  media  policy  democracy 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Are Civics Lessons a Constitutional Right? This Student Is Suing for Them - The New York Times
"Many see the lack of civics in schools as a national crisis. A federal lawsuit says it also violates the law."



"Aleita Cook, 17, has never taken a class in government, civics or economics. In the two social studies classes she took in her four years at a technical high school in Providence, R.I. — one in American history, the other in world history — she learned mostly about wars, she said.

Left unanswered were many practical questions she had about modern citizenship, from how to vote to “what the point of taxes are.” As for politics, she said, “What is a Democrat, a Republican, an independent? Those things I had to figure out myself.”

Now she and other Rhode Island public school students and parents are filing a federal lawsuit against the state on Thursday, arguing that failing to prepare children for citizenship violates their rights under the United States Constitution.

They say the state has not equipped all of its students with the skills to “function productively as civic participants” capable of voting, serving on a jury and understanding the nation’s political and economic life."
2018  civics  publicschools  democracy  law  legal  schooling  schools  education  economics  voting 
november 2018 by robertogreco
lalitha vasudevan on Twitter: "Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, where
"Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, wherein to relate to have personally experienced.

1/

Being able to relate, in and of itself, isn't the cause of my despair. It's the over-reliance on experience to the exclusion of other ways of creating conditions for understanding that worries me. This bent away from the traps of "cultural literacy" began w/good intentions;

2/

but this response -- understandably, in resistance to the hyper-testing mania that overtook and still dominates much of the schooling landscape -- may err too far in the direction of allowing some young people to never have to stray too far from their own thoughts.

3/

I want to know what young people think, what they notice and see, how they navigate and experience the world. AND, I want their insights on what others notice, see, conclude, design, and decide; for that, too, concerns young people --

4/

not only in their immediate, local, kinship networks, but about how they perceive others' perceptions of the they things they have noticed, or not. They are civic beings, active in their citizenry, and to deny this and allow otherwise is educational malpractice.

5/

I want young people to be seen and engaged as real interlocutors, not discursive window dressing to be written into curricula and grant proposals as the "participatory" element. I don't just want to hear what they think; I want to think with them, toward new questions.

6/

So, I return to a familiar, frustrating thought: My, how standardization, answer-driven teaching, & the greedy pursuit of efficiency-driven uniformity has royally screwed over kids & schools.
And (some) big data efforts want to help do more of the same.

7/7
#smalldatabigmoments"
lalithavasudevan  education  standardizedtesting  standardization  experience  relatability  teaching  learning  schools  schooliness  kinship  perception  culturalliteracy  howweteach  howwelearn  comprehension  essays  writing  howwewrite  teachingreading  teachingwriting  noticing  civics  citizenship  democracy  democratic  malpractice  participatory  participation  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  uniformity  efficiency  bigdata  testing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
“The Moral Crisis of the University” | Gardner Writes
"Michael B. Katz is a new discovery for me (h/t Roving Librarian). His scholarship on the history of public education in the U.S.is fascinating, troubling, and revelatory. I’m sure his conclusions are contested–whose aren’t?–but at times the clarity and forcefulness of his insights take my breath away.

“The Moral Crisis of the University,” reprinted in Katz’s last book, Reconstructing American Education (1987), is full of such insights. The essay doesn’t make for happy reading, but every time I read it I come away with a renewed understanding of what will be lost if higher education centered on the life of the mind and nurtured by a strong sense of civic obligation disappears. In many cases, this has already happened. The change Katz describes in 1987 has accelerated in ways that may go beyond his worst nightmare. Along with that acceleration, of course, is a great deal of business as usual, as there always is. We look here when the real erosion is happening there. It’s hard to know where to look, even when there are no distractions–and there are always distractions.

There’s an old joke about going broke, credited to Hemingway: Q: “How did you go bankrupt?” A: “Little by little, then all at once.” During the little by little stage, people who sound various alarms risk being called cranks, or worse. And it’s true: a premature or mischievous cultivation of outrage may damage or destroy what little semblance of community may be left.

And yet, the little by little becomes greater every year. Michael Katz gives me a way to see that. With that clarity also comes hope, the hope that recognizing problems really is the first step toward addressing them, managing them, perhaps even solving them.

Here, then, for Week 7 of Open Learning ’18, my last week as hub director, is some Michael Katz for us to consider together.
[W]hat is it exactly that makes a university distinct from other social institutions? [Robert Paul] Wolff offered a compelling definition based on a conception of the ideal university as a “community of learning.” The ideal university, he argued, should be “a community of persons united by collective understandings, by common and communal goals, by bonds of reciprocal obligation, and by a flow of sentiment which makes the preservation of the community an object of desire, not merely a matter of prudence or a command of duty.” Community implies a form of social obligation governed by principles different from those operative in the marketplace and state. Laws of of supply and demand lose priority; wage-labor is not the template for all human relations; the translation of individuals into commodities is resisted. The difficult task of defining common goals or acceptable activity is neither avoided nor deflected onto bureaucracy….

For all their problems, universities and their faculties remain immensely privileged. They retain a freedom of activity and expression not permitted in any other major social institution. There are two justifications for this privilege. One is that it is an essential condition of teaching and learning. The other is that universities have become the major source of moral and social criticism in modern life. They are the major site of whatever social conscience we have left…. If the legitimacy of universities rested only on their service to the marketplace and state, internal freedom would not be an issue. But their legitimacy rests, in fact, on something else: their integrity. Like all privileges, the freedom enjoyed by universities carries correlative responsibilities. In their case it is intellectual honesty and moral courage. Modern universities are the greatest centers of intellectual power in history. Without integrity, they can become little more than supermarkets with raw power for sale. This is the tendency in the modern history of the higher learning. It is what I call the moral crisis of the university.


I firmly believe that these large questions are essential foundations for any effective change or conservation in higher education. For always some new things must be invented, some things will benefit from change, and some things must be conserved. Some core principles must remain non-negotiable. I agree with Katz: tenured faculty in higher education are the last, best hope for addressing these large questions of common goals and acceptable activities.

It may not yet be too late."
gardnercampbell  via:lukeneff  2018  lifeofthemind  liberalarts  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  community  learning  civics  robertpaulwolff  michaelkatz  1987  howwelearn  purpose  meaning  bureaucracy  interdependence  collectivism  understanding  responsibility  integrity  morality  ethics  neoliberalism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Baratunde on Twitter: "Ok. I made it through the indictment. Yes I was hoping to see Donald Trump Jr's stupid face in there proving he was knowingly wiring money to the Russians. Didn't get that. Instead found a more frightening reality: we got hacked big
"Ok. I made it through the indictment. Yes I was hoping to see Donald Trump Jr's stupid face in there proving he was knowingly wiring money to the Russians. Didn't get that. Instead found a more frightening reality: we got hacked bigtime. Based on known vulnerabilities.

We build a giant deception machine called marketing and advertising, and an adversary used it against us.

We build a giant influence machine called social media, and an adversary used it against us.

We left open, unreconciled divisions in our society, and an adversary used it against us.

We weakened our press such that all the phony conflict inspired by this information warfare campaign was reported in real-time with little to no vetting, and an adversary used it against us.

We allowed our democracy to become so corrupted by money and self-serving, power-hungry folks that we already didn't trust it, and an adversary used it against us.

If the election had turned out differently, would we even know half of what we do? We only got Robert Mueller because Trump is president but also bad at wielding his power.

And even though the Russians amplified divisions to be greater than they are, those divisions are real now. There is a basic level of trust we have to have in our environment to act appropriately, and that's severely broken.

On top of that, one-half of the political establishment (the republican half) is completely uninterested in acknowledging, investigating, or responding to this sophisticated act of information warfare. They've done NOTHING to prepare us for the next campaign.

The president still hasn't imposed the Russia sanctions that Congress passed overwhelmingly. And everybody's just acting like, "Meh. TRUMP WILL BE TRUMP! Undermining national security is just his THING ya know?"

And Facebook. Oh Facebook. So happy to monetize the destruction of our civil fabric. They made $7B in the 3rd quarter of 2016. Zuckerberg smugly said 99% of posts are "authentic." We cannot trust this company to do what's best for us. Not just FB btw.

This indictment isn't just about Trump. It's about us needing a better vision for how we do this whole "society" thing. What forms of power get held accountable. What voices we listen to. This is ultimately about reality and our collective agreement on what THAT is. /END"
baratundethurston  donaldtrump  2018  politics  russia  hacking  marketing  elections  facebook  civics  division  infowarfare  deception  advertising  socialmedia  republicans  democrats  power  corruption  news  media  medialiteracy  robertmueller  money 
february 2018 by robertogreco
'The connection between education and democracy should be clear'
"Simon Creasey meets the academic calling for teachers to revolt against the ‘pedagogy of oppression’ and demand due payment for their overlooked role in underpinning democracy

Henry Giroux wants teachers to mobilise. He wants them to rise up and launch a revolutionary movement in order to eradicate what he calls a “pedagogy of oppression” that has permeated the education system, both in the UK and in his native US. Teachers and teachers’ unions should work with parents to pressure governments to focus education on creating “informed citizens”, he says, not learning-by-rote simply to get students to pass their exams and become workforce-ready.

This is a push for change that Giroux has been working on for some time. He currently holds the McMaster University chair for scholarship in the public interest, in Ontario, Canada. But he has been an education academic for decades and penned numerous books. He’s insistent on this course of action because “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry”.

“We live in a culture that thrives on ignorance, refuses to invest in education, flees from the obligations of shared citizenship and ignores what it means to provide a decent life for everyone, especially children,” says Giroux.

“[In this environment,] politics degenerates into a pathology and education is reduced to a form of training.”

'We need to have a dialogue'
To emphasise his point, he cites the election of Donald Trump – a president who is on record claiming that he “loves the poorly educated”.

“[Trump’s election win] is not just about a crisis of politics; it’s about the crisis of education, it’s about the crisis of civic literacy,” he says. So, how do teachers contribute to putting this right?

As a starting point, he thinks a discussion needs to be had about the true purpose of education. “We need to have a dialogue about what teachers can do to, in a sense, ensure that education is viewed as a public good and that it is tied to a democratic project that would be used to prepare students to be engaged, critical and informed citizens,” Giroux says. “We’ve got to ditch this notion that the only purpose of education is basically to educate people for the workforce or that the most important aspect of education is learning 25 different ways to teach. That’s just silly, it’s reductionistic and it turns teachers into automatons.

“This type of educational reform is really about deskilling teachers and turning education into an adjunct of the corporate workplace. It kills any notion of the imagination, and what we usually end up with is people teaching for the test. We end up with people basically implementing what I call ‘pedagogies of oppression’.”

Giroux explains that a pedagogy of oppression is one that essentially “assaults” a student’s imagination. “It often emphasises memorisation; it places a strong emphasis on harsh forms of discipline; it can result in enormously unproductive and poisonous forms of racism; it usually teaches for the test,” he says. “It embraces standardisation as a measure of knowledge and it does everything it can to basically shut down any sense of curiosity and any sense of teaching students – and teachers for that matter – what it means to exercise a degree of civic courage, to take risks, to doubt, to in some way be critically conscious of the world, to explore the full capacity of their imagination, and to open the world and themselves in a way in which they can embrace and expand their capacity to be real social-political agents.”

Giroux believes that we should educate educators in a way that enables them to fulfil the “civic purpose” of education.

“I think that increasingly gets lost in the commercialisation, the corporatisation, the commodification and the standardisation of education,” he says. “These are forces that have been highly influenced by a corporate state that doesn’t really recognise the relationship – and doesn’t want to recognise the relationship – between education and democracy, and I think teachers need to seize upon and develop a new language for understanding the purpose of education.”

Giroux identifies another issue: the things that children are being taught in schools typically bear no relation to the world in which they live – a world that is heavily influenced by social media, popular culture and mainstream media.

“To me, this is tragic because when that happens, schools often translate into dead zones of education and spaces of abandonment,” he argues. “They become places that seem irrelevant to young people. They seem to have no meaning except for an elite who need the credentials to get into Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard.”

He is similarly depressed by what he perceives to be a “deskilling” of teachers that has been brought about by the “audit culture” that pervades the education system in the US and UK. Educators, he believes, should push against or ignore it.

“Teachers can’t just close their door and say ‘I’m going to do everything I can to avoid this’,” says Giroux. “They need to organise collectively. They need to bring the power of a collective teacher’s union, and the power of working with parents and young people, to begin to put pressure on governments because in the final analysis what is at stake here is changing policy. That is, changing policies that are oppressive and endlessly put into play.”

‘Great social movement’

What is important, he says, it that such a reaction is not politically aligned. Giroux explains that “the notion of creating informed and critical students cuts across ideological lines” and that it “should be attractive to anyone who believes that schooling is crucial to creating informed citizens”.

To do this, teachers need to have a clear idea of their larger role in society and this role needs to be self-defined. “Teachers have to become part of a great social movement in which they define themselves as a public resource,” says Giroux.

He argues that, as part of this movement, teachers should fight for policies that advocate more funding for education, more autonomy for teachers and higher pay.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors and they should be professionalised in ways that suggest they are a valued part of any society, which is what they are,” says Giroux. “Schools matter in a democracy and teachers should be one of the most valued groups of people that we have in our society, yet at the same time they are the most belittled, the most dehumanised and the most exploited among professionals – and I think that’s because we have no faith in democracy.

“We can’t seem to make the connection between teaching, education and democracy, and I think that teachers need to make that connection and they need to make it loud and clear. They need to talk about public schools and higher education as democratic public spheres and they need to make clear that what they do is absolutely vital to the nature of society itself – and they need to fight for it.”

Picking sides

Although he concedes that he is “utterly pessimistic” about the changes that have taken place to the education system in the US since the 1980s – the public schools sector in particular – he is quietly optimistic about the future. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point where many people are refusing to accept what we call the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Giroux.

“They’re refusing to accept the racism that goes on in schools with kids being expelled and thrown out of schools, and we have also seen this huge revolt in the US against teaching for the test. More and more people are now realising that education is one of the few protected spaces and battlefronts left over which we can defend any notion of a liberal education. An education that is engaged in creating critical citizens and furthering the parameters of a democratic society.”

Regardless of whether this change is happening as quickly as Giroux feels it must, he is clear that we are at a point where teachers need to pick sides.

“Democracy is in crisis around the world and to address that crisis, education needs to be reclaimed as a moral and political project willing to address the future with a degree of civic courage and educated hope,” he says. “In this case, the struggle to reclaim the democratic function of education is not an option, it is a necessity.”"
simoncreasey  henrygiroux  children  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  teachers  teaching  democracy  oppression  pedagogy  civics  politics  pathology  education  standardization  racism  race  rote  rotelearning  learning  corporatism  memorization  resistance  socialmedia  popularculture  society  elitism  credentials  us  uk  policy  autonomy  unions  organization  2018  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
25 small ways to make SF a better place - Curbed SF
"When it comes to making change at the local level, sometimes the tiniest actions can spark the biggest changes—and in San Francisco, where the options for helping the greater good can seem overwhelming, starting with small daily tasks is the best place to start. As more wealth pours into the city and the economic divide grows wider than ever before, it’s important to help out your fellow San Franciscan, zip code and tax bracket be damned.

For San Franciscans looking to make their hometown a better place, we present these small, but substantial, ways that you can help make a difference.

From your home

1. Stay informed about local news. It’s hard not to be aware of national news these days, but to get a sense of what’s changing in your immediate surroundings, soak in some local news by making local papers and blogs a part of your daily media diet. The San Francisco Chronicle is, of course, important, but other SF outlets can help you stay informed—from hyperlocal blogs (Richmond SF Blog, Mission Local, etc.) to established sources (Hoodline, San Francisco Magazine, etc.) and even more. Oh, and don’t forget Curbed SF.

2. Compost. Don’t believe the malodorous lies! Composting is easy and a great way of helping the environment from your kitchen. If your building or home does not yet have a green composting bin, the city will send you one free of charge.

3. Follow these pro-housing advocates and journalists on Twitter: Kim-Mai Cutler, Liam Dillon, Victoria Fierce, SF YIMBY, Laura Foote Clark, and YIMBY Action will keep you abreast of both anti-growth hypocrisy and action items that will help abate the California housing crisis.

4. Remember reusable bags. They’re easy to compile, but difficult to remember once you’re at Whole Foods. The cost of plastic and paper bags, both environmental and economical, are too much to bear. Stick a few reusable bags by your front door so you remember to bring them to your next shopping trip.

5. Donate, don’t discard, your old clothes. For those of you who simply cannot bear the thought of wearing last year’s jeans (perish the thought!) or want to whittle down your wardrobe to a minimalist offering, don’t trash your old clothes. Shelters like the St. Anthony Foundation can redistribute clean clothing to homeless San Franciscans. If you have professional women’s attire to toss, consider give them to Dress for Success. And Larkin Street Youth accepts gently worn clothing for at-risk, runaway youths.

In your neighborhood

6. Learn about your neighborhood’s history. Did you know the Castro used to be an Irish-American working-class neighborhood? Or that South of Market used the be called South of the Slot, which later became a novella by Nobel Prize-winning scribe Jack London? And who knew that Presidio Terrace was originally designed as a whites-only neighborhood? Take a deep dive into your neighborhood’s past, good and bad. After all, the city isn’t a blank slate.

7. Donate old books. Grab a handful (or trunkload) of books from your home library and add some inventory to the nearest Little Free Library. There are dozens in San Francisco and hundreds in the Bay Area. If you’d rather donate to the library, take your books to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. It’s a tax write-off!

8. Take care of a neighbor’s pet at PAWS. For some people, especially those who are chronically ill, frail, and isolated by disease or age, animal companionship is crucial to their health and well-being. Volunteer with PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) to get paired one-on-one with members of the community (who may be LGBT seniors or people living with HIV, Hepatitis C, or cancer) who need help caring for their pet. Ideal for animal lovers with no-pet rental agreements!

9. Attend neighborhood meetings. The best way to find out about what’s up in your neighborhood is to attend public meetings organized each month by your local community association. Here’s a good place to start.

10. Wave to tourists when they pass you on cable cars or tour buses. They freakin’ love that.

Along your route

11. Take public transit. It’s the best way to get to know your city. Learn Muni and BART routes along your most-traveled roads and hop on. And you’d be surprised how convenient the cable cars and F lines are.

12. Put foot to pedal. San Francisco is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you get started.

13. Be kind to the homeless. It’s going to take great leaps and bounds from the city to solve its chronic homeless problem. In the meantime, there are small things that you can do to empower those who need help. For starters, remember that people become homeless for a number of reasons—so leave the stereotyping or judgmental attitudes behind.

14. Document your city. One of the best ways to get to know the city is to shooting photos. Better yet, post them on Instagram. You will discover thousands of photographers also share your love of the city’s many neighborhoods. It’s a great way of take a closer look at your hood and getting to know your neighbors. Just don’t forget to geotag.

15. Be a conscientious pedestrian. From moving over to the right when using your phone to helping fellow pedestrians with strollers, there are a lot of ways to improve your two-foot mode of transportation around town. Because it’s 2018 and there’s no excuse for blocking a sidewalk. Here’s a pedestrian etiquette guide to help sharpen your two-step game.

In your community

16. Say hello to people/ask people how they’re doing. San Francisco can feel like a big small town, and its residents know it. If you’re walking around a neighborhood, or stopping into a local store, say, “Hello.” Stop being rude to service industry workers. Do not order with your phone attached to your ear. It’s dehumanizing. Be friendly.

17. Be a poll worker on election day. Looking for a way to up your voting game? Become a poll worker. It takes roughly 3,000 workers on election day to bets all the ballots processed. And with this upcoming June election being a crucial one, the city could use your help. (Psst, you will also get a $195 stipend.)

18. Fight hunger in the community. The uptick in foodie trends and prices have made nourishment seem like a privilege for the lucky and well-to-do. Not so. People are still starving in the city. Get involved with groups like San Francisco Food Bank, GLIDE Church, and Project Open Hand to make sure everyone in the community has food on the table.

19. Volunteer with the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs. The department’s Pathways to Citizenship Initiative program always needs volunteers, interpreters, and legal professionals to assist with their bi-monthly naturalization workshops.

20. Get off Nextdoor. Beginning with good intentions, Nextdoor has turned into a cesspool of racism and bigotry for a lot of San Francisco residents.

With a group

21. Hook up with the Friends of the Urban Forest. See how you can help add foliage to San Francisco’s streets with this choice nonprofit. They organize everything from neighborhood tree plantings to sidewalk landscaping.

22. Dedicate your time to volunteering at one of the two Friends of the San Francisco Public Library bookstores. All proceeds benefit the public library system in San Francisco.

23. Host a letter-writing party. Written letters get more traction than email or @’ing your local lawmaker. If there’s an issue you feel strongly about, it’s more than likely you’re not the only one, and a letter-writing party is a great way to organize your community for a positive cause. Best of all, you can add a few bottles of wine and turn it into a real party.

24. Volunteer at Animal Care and Control. ACC receives roughly 10,000 animals every year and rely on volunteers to help out. These pets don’t get the luxe treatment found at nearly SF SPCA, so they could use all the love they deserve.

25. Show up. When people come together—especially in times of great need—they can do amazing things. This was especially true during the AIDS crisis and of the moments following the Loma Prieta earthquake. Go to protests. Attend rallies. Fight for others’ rights. Relish the fact that you live in a city that, in one way or another, however dim it seems at times, seeks for the betterment of all humans."
classideas  sanfrancisco  civics  community  activism  engagement  pedestrians  2018  etiquette  publictransit  transportation  bikes  biking  nextdoor  volunteering  animals  pets  nature  trees  protests  friendliness  elections  neighborhoods  environment  composting  recycling 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Reasons To Be Cheerful
"I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.

The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, "Oh no!" Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, "Hey, there's actually some positive stuff going on!" Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

I will post thoughts, images and audio relating to this initiative on whichever platform seems suitable and I’ll welcome contributions from others, if they follow the guidelines I’ve set for myself.

These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories:

Education
Health
Civic Engagement
Science/Tech
Urban/Transportation
Energy
Culture

Culture, music and the arts might include, optimistically, some of my own work and projects, but just as much I hope to promote the work of others that has a proven track record.

Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess, though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.

Emulation of successful models- 4 guidelines

I laid out 4 guidelines as I collected these examples:

1. Most of the good stuff is local. It’s more bottom up, community and individually driven. There are exceptions.

2. Many examples come from all over the world, but despite the geographical and cultural distances in many cases others can adopt these ideas—these initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated.

3. Very important. All of these examples have been tried and proven to be successful. These are not merely good IDEAS; they’ve been put into practice and have produced results.

4. The examples are not one-off, isolated or human interest, feel-good stories. They’re not stories of one amazing teacher, doctor, musician or activist- they’re about initiatives that can be copied and scaled up.

If it works, copy it

For example, in an area I know something about, there was an innovative bike program in Bogota, and years later, I saw that program become a model for New York and for other places.

The Ciclovia program in Bogota"
davidbyrne  politics  urban  urbanism  bogotá  curitiba  addiction  portugal  colombia  brazil  brasil  jaimelerner  cities  society  policy  qualityoflife  economics  drugs  health  healthcare  crime  ciclovia  bikes  biking  bikesharing  activism  civics  citybike  nyc  medellín  afroreggae  vigariogeral  favelas  obesity  childabuse  education  casamantequilla  harlem  civicengagment  engagement  women'smarch  northcarolina  ingridlafleur  afrotopia  detroit  seattle  citizenuniversity  tishuanajones  sunra  afrofuturism  stlouis  vancouver  britishcolumbia  transportation  publictransit  transit  velib  paris  climatechange  bipartisanship  energy  science  technology  culture  music  art  arts  behavior  medellin 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How teen-focused design can help reshape our cities - Curbed
"Sometimes it seems like there is nowhere for teens to be. Here’s what they are doing about it"



"A decade ago, skateparks also tended to be bounded, purpose-built environments that skaters nicknamed “exercise yards.” Today the boundaries are often more fluid, at least between a public park and the skate park. In Tacoma, rather than a 10,000-square-foot skatepark, the city built a few skate spots in a park and, in downtown Wright Park, made the semi-circular benches around the “sprayground” skateable with steel edges rather than defending them with steel knobs. In Emeryville, California, there’s a skate path, with bowls, bumps and rails spread out over a recreational corridor (provoked, it must be said, by the demolition of a DIY skate park).

These designs simulate the thrill of the streets where skateboarding began and, some skateboarders insist, it belongs. In Red Hook, the new park will stay connected to the city, and be protected by more eyes, because it will still serve as a pass-through for residents walking north.

******

Many of the teens’ suggestions, coast to coast, just seem like good sense for people of any age: seating, green space, recreation zonesclose to public transportation, an adult nearby should something happen (but not operating under a state of constant surveillance), longer and later hours. Teens are people too! These projects harness their energy, their ideas and their persuasive powers so that the education goes both ways: teens learn how to advocate for themselves on the city stage, adults learn what it is that a famously uncommunicative demographic needs.

I like Rich’s formulation of teenagers as a febrile, emotional version of adults, not yet disappeared inside a carapace of car, phone, job, gym. The skateboarders and the snackers, the watchers and the players are all alive to the built environment."
alexandralange  architecture  design  urbanism  urban  skateboarding  skateboards  skating  teens  youth  urbanplanning  cities  activism  civics  publicspace  edhook  nyc  booklyn  emeryville  skateparks  parks 
january 2018 by robertogreco
When the narrative breaks - Long View on Education
"So, here’s one way to look at the whole narrative about education systems failing to provide skills of the future for employers:

Maybe schools should cultivate creativity & critical thinking not because the ‘jobs of the future’ demand these skills that are necessary for an educated citizenry, but because most jobs restrict these human capacities?

Often, the more we work in jobs with machines the more machine-like we need to become.

Yet, maybe some of the least recognize and most important work – caring for others – is precisely where we find creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and all the others skills that are apparently so desirable. That is, the ‘jobs of the future’ narrative has duped us on another level: because it never talks about care work, it seems as if that work is unimportant and low-skill. In a story on Vox, a support worker named Nathan Auldridge says that though “the pay is shit”, “You can’t make a robot do what I do.”"



"The ‘jobs of the future’ narrative is broken beyond repair: there’s no skills gap that education needs to fill, nor do the vast majority of the jobs that actually require many of the 21c skills pay very well. Why is that? The Vox article continues:
Caregiving — a low-paid, low-status job — is also most often done by disadvantaged workers. One in 10 working black women are employed in direct care; more than a quarter of direct care workers are black women. In contrast, while white women make up 35 percent of these jobs, only one in 37 working white women is employed in direct care. Latina women, as well as immigrant women, are also disproportionately represented.

Since women of color are disproportionately represented in these growing jobs of the future, why are they not represented in the forecasts about the future? In an article called Where are the Black Futurists?(2000), the author (listed as ‘Black Issues’) reflects on an all white male C-SPAN futurist panel:
“there are too many people talking about the future without considering the future of African Americans and other people of color.

By not considering us, is the majority implicitly suggesting that we don’t matter? Do they think that as America ages, we will continue to play the traditional service and support roles for their communities? When I hear estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor that we’ll need nearly a million home health aides in the next decade, and I know that most home health aides now are Black and Brown women, I conclude that unless the wage structure changes, the future implications for those women and their families are frightening.

But the futurists mainly seem to be predicting what an aging society will need without predicting who will provide it.”2
"
benjamindoxtdator  2017  care  caring  future  jobs  education  sfsh  collaboration  creativity  human  tcsnmy  cv  machines  technology  humanities  humanism  criticalthinking  civics  citizenry  democracy  work  labor  stem  steam  economics  caregiving  race  racism  futurism  sciences 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Writing Well about Terrible People | Incisive.nu
"I suspect that Nellie Bowles, who is a longtime tech reporter, is not at all interested in carrying water for James Damore and his merry band of throwbacks. I assume that she and her editors are well-intentioned journalists trying to cover an emotionally charged story in a Times-y way. But their intentions don’t matter here, any more than they matter when the Times (and most other major papers in the US) offer similarly context-free coverage of Donald Trump and Richard Spencer.

Informing the reader means finding ways to tie even short articles to the seething complexity—and even scientific facts—that underlie necessarily simplified and abbreviated quotations and paraphrases. Eschewing context means the reader must assemble it for herself or risk assuming that the various views presented in a neutrally framed article are roughly equal in reason and virtue. Offering too much context, even in a neutral framing, can make an article feel dry. Many journalists appear to fear the latter a bit more than the former, which results in conventions of coverage that drain important topics of their real weight and life.

This balancing act is an enormous challenge, and I’m grateful that my daily work doesn’t involve wrestling with it. But this article, and so many like it, fail to accomplish a centrally important aspect of making sense of the world, and I think that matters."
publishing  journalism  civics  ethics  2017  erinkissane 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Mexico 68 - 99% Invisible
"The clear iconography of the Metro system is a reminder of a complicated and sometimes terrible period in Mexico City’s history. It’s a simple design that invites you to explore the massive and complex metropolis. It is a graphic design system that assures that, if you get lost, no matter where you’re from, or what language you speak, you can find your way around, and see the city for yourself."

[See also: http://www.hermanmiller.com/why/talking-pictures.html ]
design  graphicdesign  1968  olympics  mexico  graphics  mexicocity  df  mexicodf  lancewyman  petermurdoch  opart  art  history  typography  luiscastañeda  color  mexico68  government  civics  metro  transportation  subways  worldcup  1970  tolisten 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Ciudad Emergente | Laboratorio para el Urbanismo Ciudadano
"CEM es un Laboratorio de Tácticas y Herramientas para el Urbanismo Ciudadano. Buscamos construir colectivamente las ciudades para hacerlas más vivibles."



"Ciudad Emergente es un productor de innovación urbana que busca mejorar la calidad de vida en ciudades en desarrollo a través de la gestión de plataformas de información y proyectos participativos de alto impacto. Fundado en 2011 Ciudad Emergente busca ser el principal Centro Latinoamericano especializado en tácticas urbanas y aplicaciones web que permiten recolectar, difundir, socializar y coordinar información valiosa relativa a la calidad de vida en ciudades y barrios en desarrollo.

Nuestra misión es combinar tácticas de activación ciudadana con herramientas de intercomunicación social 2.0 para identificar, construir, validar y mantener sets de indicadores relevantes y atingentes para toda ‘comunidad emergente’. Ciudad Emergente se dedica a desarrollar, adaptar e implementar instrumentos y servicios análogos y digitales de colaboración cívica que faciliten la comunicación efectiva entre tomadores de decisión y sociedad civil, articulando procesos locales de activismo ciudadano y fortaleciendo el capital social de las comunidades."
urban  urbanism  cities  activism  chile  nyc  santiago  civics  latinamerica  development 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Learning the City - Cultural Approaches to Civic Learning in | Hari Sacré | Springer
"This book explores a cultural understanding of cities and processes of civic learning by scrutinizing urban educational topics from a cultural studies perspective. This book approaches the city as a cultural fabric that consists of social, material and symbolic dimensions, and describes how civic learning is not an accidental outcome of cities but an essential component through which citizens coproduce the city. Through a combination of theoretical development and methodological reflection the chapters in the book explore three interrelated questions addressing the relationships between culture, learning and the city: How does civic learning appear in urban spaces? How does civic learning take place through urban spaces? How are urban spaces created as a result of civic learning?"
books  sfsh  learning  cities  urban  urbanism  civics 
march 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger: The Nature of Mass Demonstrations (Autumn 1968)
"Seventy years ago (on 6 May 1898) there was a massive demonstration of workers, men and women, in the centre of Milan. The events which led up to it involve too long a history to treat with here. The demonstration was attacked and broken up by the army under the command of General Beccaris. At noon the cavalry charged the crowd: the unarmed workers tried to make barricades: martial law was declared and for three days the army fought against the unarmed.

The official casualty figures were 100 workers killed and 450 wounded. One policeman was killed accidentally by a soldier. There were no army casualties. (Two years later Umberto I was assassinated because after the massacre he publicly congratulated General Beccaris, the ‘butcher of Milan.’)

I have been trying to understand certain aspects of the demonstration in the Corso Venezia on 6 May because of a story I am writing. In the process I came to a few conclusions about demonstrations which may perhaps be more widely applicable.

Mass demonstrations should be distinguished from riots or revolutionary uprisings although, under certain (now rare) circumstances, they may develop into either of the latter. The aims of a riot are usually immediate (the immediacy matching the desperation they express): the seizing of food, the release of prisoners, the destruction of property. The aims of a revolutionary uprising are long-term and comprehensive: they culminate in the taking over of State power. The aims of a demonstration, however, are symbolic: it demonstrates a force that is scarcely used.

A large number of people assemble together in an obvious and already announced public place. They are more or less unarmed. (On 6 May 1898, entirely unarmed.) They present themselves as a target to the forces of repression serving the State authority against whose policies they are protesting.

Theoretically demonstrations are meant to reveal the strength of popular opinion or feeling: theoretically they are an appeal to the democratic conscience of the State. But this presupposes a conscience which is very unlikely to exist.

If the State authority is open to democratic influence, the demonstration will hardly be necessary; if it is not, it is unlikely to be influenced by an empty show of force containing no real threat. (A demonstration in support of an already established alternative State authority – as when Garibaldi entered Naples in 1860 – is a special case and may be immediately effective.)

Demonstrations took place before the principle of democracy was even nominally admitted. The massive early Chartist demonstrations were part of the struggle to obtain such an admission. The crowds who gathered to present their petition to the Tsar in St Petersburg in 1905 were appealing – and presenting themselves as a target – to the ruthless power of an absolute monarchy. In the event – as on so many hundreds of other occasions all over Europe – they were shot down.

It would seem that the true function of demonstrations is not to convince the existing State authority to any significant degree. Such an aim is only a convenient rationalisation.

The truth is that mass demonstrations are rehearsals for revolution: not strategic or even tactical ones, but rehearsals of revolutionary awareness. The delay between the rehearsals and the real performance may be very long: their quality – the intensity of rehearsed awareness – may, on different occasions, vary considerably: but any demonstration which lacks this element of rehearsal is better described as an officially encouraged public spectacle.

A demonstration, however much spontaneity it may contain, is a created event which arbitrarily separates itself from ordinary life. Its value is the result of its artificiality, for therein lies its prophetic, rehearsing possibilities.

A mass demonstration distinguishes itself from other mass crowds because it congregates in public to create its function, instead of forming in response to one: in this, it differs from any assembly of workers within their place of work – even when strike action is involved – or from any crowd of spectators. It is an assembly which challenges what is given by the mere fact of its coming together.

State authorities usually lie about the number of demonstrators involved. The lie, however, makes little difference. (It would only make a significant difference if demonstrations really were an appeal to the democratic conscience of the State.) The importance of the numbers involved is to be found in the direct experience of those taking part in or sympathetically witnessing the demonstration. For them the numbers cease to be numbers and become the evidence of their senses, the conclusions of their imagination. The larger the demonstration, the more powerful and immediate (visible, audible, tangible) a metaphor it becomes for their total collective strength.

I say metaphor because the strength thus grasped transcends the potential strength of those present, and certainly their actual strength as deployed in a demonstration. The more people there are there, the more forcibly they represent to each other and to themselves those who are absent. In this way a mass demonstration simultaneously extends and gives body to an abstraction. Those who take part become more positively aware of how they belong to a class. Belonging to that class ceases to imply a common fate, and implies a common opportunity. They begin to recognise that the function of their class need no longer be limited: that it, too, like the demonstrations itself, can create its own function.

Revolutionary awareness is rehearsed in another way by the choice and effect of location. Demonstrations are essentially urban in character, and they are usually planned to take place as near as possible to some symbolic centre, either civic or national. Their ‘targets’ are seldom the strategic ones – railway stations, barracks, radio stations, airports. A mass demonstration can be interpreted as the symbolic capturing of a city or capital. Again, the symbolism or metaphor is for the benefit of the participants.

The demonstration, an irregular event created by the demonstrators, nevertheless takes place near the city centre, intended for very different uses. The demonstrators interrupt the regular life of the streets they march through or of the open spaces they fill. They ‘cut off these areas, and, not yet having the power to occupy them permanently, they transform them into a temporary stage on which they dramatise the power they still lack.

The demonstrators’ view of the city surrounding their stage also changes. By demonstrating, they manifest a greater freedom and independence – a greater creativity, even although the product is only symbolic – than they can ever achieve individually or collectively when pursuing their regular lives. In their regular pursuits they only modify circumstances; by demonstrating they symbolically oppose their very existence to circumstances.

This creativity may be desperate in origin, and the price to be paid for it high, but it temporarily changes their outlook. They become corporately aware that it is they or those whom they represent who have built the city and who maintain it. They see it through different eyes. They see it as their product, confirming their potential instead of reducing it.

Finally, there is another way in which revolutionary awareness is rehearsed. The demonstrators present themselves as a target to the so-called forces of law and order. Yet the larger the target they present, the stronger they feel. This cannot be explained by the banal principle of ‘strength in numbers,’ any more than by vulgar theories of crowd psychology. The contradiction between their actual vulnerability and their sense of invincibility corresponds to the dilemma which they force upon the State authority.

Either authority must abdicate and allow the crowd to do as it wishes: in which case the symbolic suddenly becomes real, and, even if the crowd’s lack of organisation and preparedness prevents it from consolidating its victory, the event demonstrates the weakness of authority. Or else authority must constrain and disperse the crowd with violence: in which case the undemocratic character of such authority is publicly displayed. The imposed dilemma is between displayed weakness and displayed authoritarianism. (The officially approved and controlled demonstration does not impose the same dilemma: its symbolism is censored: which is why I term it a mere public spectacle.) Almost invariably, authority chooses to use force. The extent of its violence depends upon many factors, but scarcely ever upon the scale of the physical threat offered by the demonstrators. This threat is essentially symbolic. But by attacking the demonstration authority ensures that the symbolic event becomes an historical one: an event to be remembered, to be learnt from, to be avenged.

It is in the nature of a demonstration to provoke violence upon itself. Its provocation may also be violent. But in the end it is bound to suffer more than it inflicts. This is a tactical truth and an historical one. The historical role of demonstrations is to show the injustice, cruelty, irrationality of the existing State authority. Demonstrations are protests of innocence.

But the innocence is of two kinds, which can only be treated as though they were one at a symbolic level. For the purposes of political analysis and the planning of revolutionary action, they must be separated. There is an innocence to be defended and an innocence which must finally be lost: an innocence which derives from justice, and an innocence which is the consequence of a lack of experience.

Demonstrations express political ambitions before the political means necessary to realise them have been created. Demonstrations predict the realisation of their own ambitions and thus may contribute to that realisation, but they cannot themselves achieve them.

The … [more]
johnberger  demonstrations  1968  revolution  massdemonstrations  assembly  democracy  rehearsal  resistance  awareness  practice  authority  authoritarianism  civics  change  law  order  organization  violence 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"



"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."



"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."



"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."



"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."



"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Participation is an invitation: Citizen, Citizenship, Participation DVD | Reggio Children
"During the meetings, as the children used different expressive languages to investigate and interpret the themes and meanings of community and citizenship, their words and ideas emerged more and more clearly.
 
It was immediately visible (and audible!) that we were building a sort of alphabet, a lexicon that inventoried the value of citizenship, participation, city, public places, migration, rights, duties…

The children’s reflections represent a special occasion to re-launch, also in other contexts, the themes of welcome, borders, and democracy, and to elicit, we hope, new stories and new opportunities for listening."
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  citizenship  participation  community  civics  democracy  listening 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Flight or Fight - The Baffler
"There is a certain segment of the political left in America that believes if they vote the right way and hold the “correct” opinions and use politically correct language, then they are doing their part for the greater good. Unfortunately, it is a large segment. While the elites fight over issues of identity politics and representation, the other-than-elites are so often left to look on and fend for themselves.

Even if Hillary Clinton wins this election, our country’s problems—things like economic inequality, hunger, inadequate access to health care, homelessness, an ineffective and violent police culture, mass shootings, and the unchanneled energy of apathetic and angry young men—will not go away overnight. Nor are they likely to be solved through governmental action when we have such a polarized, obstinate Congress.

The way we make our country better is by participating in our country. When Americans, whether they be celebrities or dinner-party jabberers, threaten to move to Canada if things don’t go their way, they reveal their sullen bad faith: they pretend that while their country has some sort of obligation to them, they have no obligation to their country.

We can learn a lot from our activist brothers and sisters overseas. The first lesson is how important it is that we stay. And fight."
activism  anarchism  dissent  civics  election  2016  jessacrispin  democracy  politics  sfsh 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Bat, Bean, Beam: The school as utopia
"What might a radically more just society look like? How would its decisions be made, and by whom? What would its economy look like, whom would it trade with and how? Even radicals may not always have ready, concrete answers to these questions. Contrary to Jameson’s famous quip, it’s not the end of capitalism that is especially hard to imagine – science-fiction writers do it all the time – but rather the connections from the present to any of our available futures.

It is customary to attribute the current dearth of utopian thinking to the historical defeat of the great anti-capitalist ideology, particularly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, coupled with the runaway financialisation of the most advanced capitalist economies. I’m rather more inclined to credit the second part of the equation than the first: for even if socialism – or whatever you want to call it – could still be imagined outside the form of the nation state (as it most certainly can), what is fast disappearing inside it are opportunities for alternative, concrete forms of self-determination and emancipation. There can be no factory councils without factories. There can be no workers’ rights not just without unions, but without a common, unifying notion of what labour is. Reduced to a life-long state of precarity that mimics grotesquely the dynamics of the most profitable trades, or of professions such as the lawyer or the physician – everyone is a contractor, everyone is their own boss – many if not most workers have been successfully alienated from their class, therefore from the ability to organise and articulate a common experience.

Which is what makes the few remaining spaces in which the utopian imagination can be exercised all the more precious.

Over the past two weeks I reprinted as many translations of texts from a historical past in which schools were viewed as the incubators of a new, more equal society, or alternatively as the first in a series of institutions designed to imprison, subdue and mould the citizen-subject to be to the needs of an oppressive one. I can think of my own education as falling a little under column A, and a little under column B. At any rate, there is always a real-world tension between those two pictures. Do our schools teach creativity or conformity? Do they produce obedient workers or autonomous citizens? When they strive for equality, in whose image is their model student created? And what or whom does that image leave out?

This tension notwithstanding, public education in most countries is a playground for practical utopias. Almost universally, the principal, stated goal of compulsory, state-funded education is to remedy the accident of birth, that is to say strive to ensure the same outcomes between children of different backgrounds. I say “stated” for a reason: in practice, this goal can be compromised upon and co-opted in a variety of ways. But that rhetorically even the political right should agree that the task of state education is to make up for economic disadvantage is something to hold on to. And to build on.

You could even say – hell, I’m just about to say it – that a state school is a little proto-socialist society, in which everyone receives according to their need and gives according to their ability. Furthermore, this society insists on pursuing recreation and the liberal arts, often in the face of pressures to narrow its teachings to what will be ‘most useful in life’. This latter demand, which intensifies as students get older, ultimately reveals the other objective of the school system, which is to serve the needs of the economy. In this double articulation we glimpse again the tension exemplified by the writings of De Amicis and Papini. At one end, there is the school that creates a society of equals; at the other, the school that trains children to take orders and habituates them to the hierarchies of the adult world.

Regular followers of this blog will know that one of my preoccupations over the years has been to advocate for inclusive education, meaning an education that expands to accommodate all children, with their full range of learning abilities. This was not always part of the mission of state education, whose history the world over was long marked by the total removal and exclusion of disabled children. Segregation is still very common in Aotearoa, in residential schools but more often through special schools and units. However, significant progress has been made over the last two decades, thanks to the self-advocacy of disabled people and their supporters, and as part of a global movement, to include all children in the ‘regular’ classroom: a progress sadly countervailed by the reluctance of the neoliberal state to properly recognise these rights and provide for full participation.

The situation therefore is one in which, even in the proto-socialist societies I’ve described, children with disabilities are second-class citizens, subject to diminished access to the buildings and the curriculum, and to borderline-obsessive rituals of verification and assessment that their peers are spared. A cruel inversion of the competitive principle of school choice forces these children and their families to move from public school to public school, hoping to find one that will ‘choose’ them.

The struggle against this oppression continues. But – and this is the main point I want to make today – the vision for a truly inclusive school system has a secondary but crucial value, which is to expand our utopian imaginary. An inclusive school is not just a regular school, only with children with disabilities in it. An inclusive school is a school in which the notions of citizenship, democracy and participation are radically expanded. It is a school in which the built environment, the curriculum, the teaching and the social relations challenge the limits of what children can achieve, therefore of what society can be.

It is often said that having children with disabilities can politicise you. For our part, I can say being able to work with and support the inclusive local school that our children attend has been a lesson in utopia-building. It has been our concrete playground, a place where to realise forms of participation and belonging that we didn’t know existed.

The problem, of course, is not just how to protect our little island, or how to replicate its experience elsewhere, but also how to prepare ourselves and our children for what comes after: that is to say, the transition to a society that has stopped aspiring to the most elementary principles of equality, security, participation and inclusion. Yet in this respect, too, the utopian school comes to our aid: for it sharpens the demand, and arms us with the knowledge that an alternative is both necessary and possible. "
giovannitiso  schools  utopia  education  inclusivity  2016  socialism  citizenship  civics  democracy  participation  curriculum  teaching  howweteach  future  society  children  equality  security  inclusion  segregation  self-advocacy  disability  disabilities 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Board of Supervisors : Youth Commission [City and County of San Francisco]
"The Youth Commission is a body of 17 youth from San Franciscan between the ages of 12 and 23. Created by the voters under a 1995 amendment to the City Charter, the commission is responsible for advising the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor on policies and laws related to young people. The Youth Commission is also charged with providing comment and recommendation on all proposed laws that would primarily affect youth before the Board takes final action.  You can read more about the Youth Commission here."
sanfrancisco  youth  edg  srg  sfsh  civics  leadership 
august 2016 by robertogreco
McDonald's: you can sneer, but it's the glue that holds communities together | Business | The Guardian
[Tweeted previously:
"“Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy.” When our public institutions no longer serve the public."
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/742821334476951554

and noting
"Same with other chains (like Starbucks, KFC) in my neighborhood. Places for youth to assemble too, when programs come with too many strings."
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/742821897553874944

"When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.

Walk into any McDonald’s in the morning and you will find a group of mostly retired people clustering in a corner, drinking coffee, eating and talking. They are drawn to the McDonald’s because it has inexpensive good coffee, clean bathrooms, space to sprawl. Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy."



"In almost every franchise, there are tables with people like Betty escaping from the streets for a short bit. They prefer McDonald’s to shelters and to non-profits, because McDonald’s are safer, provide more freedom, and most importantly, the chance to be social, restoring a small amount of normalcy.

In the Bronx, many of my friends who live on the streets are regulars. Steve, who has been homeless for 20 years, uses the internet to check up on sports, find discarded papers to do the crossword puzzle, and generally escape for a while. He and his wife Takeesha will turn a McDonald’s meal into an evening out. Beauty, who has been homeless for five years, uses the internet to check up on her family back in Oklahoma when she can find a computer to borrow.

Most importantly though, McDonald’s provide many with the chance to make real and valuable connections. When faced with the greatest challenges, with a personal loss, wealthier Americans turn to expensive therapists, others without the resources or the availability, turn to each other.

In Sulfur Springs, Texas, in the late morning, Lew Mannon, 76, and Gerald Pinkham, 78, were sitting alone at a table, the last of the morning regulars to leave. She was needling him about politics. (“I like to tease the men who come, get them all riled up, tell them they just don’t want a female as president.”) Both are retired, Gerald from working for an airfreight company, and Lew after 28 years as a bank teller.

When I asked Lew about her life, she started to tear up, stopped for a second, and composed herself. “Life is hard. Very hard. Seven years ago I lost my husband to leukemia. Then three years ago I lost one of my sons. Health complications from diabetes. When my son died, I had nobody to help me, emotionally, except this community here. Gerald lost his wife three years ago, and we have helped support each other through that.”

She stopped again, unable to speak from tears. After a moment of silence: “I look composed on the outside. Many of us do. But I struggle a lot on the inside. This community here gives me the support to get by.”"

[Update: Kenyatta Cheese blogged this with the following notes:
http://finalbossform.com/post/145925082985/mcdonalds-you-can-sneer-but-its-the-glue-that

I’ve learned through @triciawang that spaces like these are known as third places in sociology. Third places are neutral, accessible spaces where people can meet with old friends and be exposed to possible new ones.

Tricia spent a decade living in, mapping, and understanding third places in Beijing, Wuhan, Brooklyn, Bangalore, and Oaxaca. (She’s badass that way.)

She taught me that Starbucks and Pizza Hut serve a similar role among young folks in China, especially for people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable sleeping in the third places that are internet cafes.

Small note on how this connects to @everybodyatonce: tv networks and creators sometimes ask us if they should create a dedicated app or website for their fandoms to which we almost always say no.

Much like the government-run community center, a dedicated app creates an unnecessary barrier to entry for new fans and requires you to program the space in the same way that you need to program and organize physical space. By meeting fans in neutral spaces (tumblr, twitter, IG, LJ, even reddit), you build bigger community by supporting the culture that already exists. ]
2016  chrisarnade  community  cities  mcdonalds  poverty  society  inequality  elitism  us  bureaucracy  elderly  aging  economics  civics  lowerclass  precarity  classism  thirdspaces  kenyattacheese  triciawang  beijing  starbucks  china  brooklyn  wuhan  bangalore  oaxaca  pizzahut  kfc  everybodyatonce  fandom  socialmedia 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Minecraft Generation - The New York Times
"Seth Frey, a postdoctoral fellow in computational social science at Dartmouth College, has studied the behavior of thousands of youths on Minecraft servers, and he argues that their interactions are, essentially, teaching civic literacy. “You’ve got these kids, and they’re creating these worlds, and they think they’re just playing a game, but they have to solve some of the hardest problems facing humanity,” Frey says. “They have to solve the tragedy of the commons.” What’s more, they’re often anonymous teenagers who, studies suggest, are almost 90 percent male (online play attracts far fewer girls and women than single-­player mode). That makes them “what I like to think of as possibly the worst human beings around,” Frey adds, only half-­jokingly. “So this shouldn’t work. And the fact that this works is astonishing.”

Frey is an admirer of Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize-­winning political economist who analyzed the often-­unexpected ways that everyday people govern themselves and manage resources. He sees a reflection of her work in Minecraft: Running a server becomes a crash course in how to compromise, balance one another’s demands and resolve conflict.

Three years ago, the public library in Darien, Conn., decided to host its own Minecraft server. To play, kids must acquire a library card. More than 900 kids have signed up, according to John Blyberg, the library’s assistant director for innovation and user experience. “The kids are really a community,” he told me. To prevent conflict, the library installed plug-ins that give players a chunk of land in the game that only they can access, unless they explicitly allow someone else to do so. Even so, conflict arises. “I’ll get a call saying, ‘This is Dasher80, and someone has come in and destroyed my house,’ ” Blyberg says. Sometimes library administrators will step in to adjudicate the dispute. But this is increasingly rare, Blyberg says. “Generally, the self-­governing takes over. I’ll log in, and there’ll be 10 or 15 messages, and it’ll start with, ‘So-and-so stole this,’ and each message is more of this,” he says. “And at the end, it’ll be: ‘It’s O.K., we worked it out! Disregard this message!’ ”

Several parents and academics I interviewed think Minecraft servers offer children a crucial “third place” to mature, where they can gather together outside the scrutiny and authority at home and school. Kids have been using social networks like Instagram or Snapchat as a digital third place for some time, but Minecraft imposes different social demands, because kids have to figure out how to respect one another’s virtual space and how to collaborate on real projects.

“We’re increasingly constraining youth’s ability to move through the world around them,” says Barry Joseph, the associate director for digital learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Joseph is in his 40s. When he was young, he and his friends roamed the neighborhood unattended, where they learned to manage themselves socially. Today’s fearful parents often restrict their children’s wanderings, Joseph notes (himself included, he adds). Minecraft serves as a new free-­ranging realm.

Joseph’s son, Akiva, is 9, and before and after school he and his school friend Eliana will meet on a Minecraft server to talk and play. His son, Joseph says, is “at home but still getting to be with a friend using technology, going to a place where they get to use pickaxes and they get to use shovels and they get to do that kind of building. I wonder how much Minecraft is meeting that need — that need that all children have.” In some respects, Minecraft can be as much social network as game.

Just as Minecraft propels kids to master Photoshop or video-­editing, server life often requires kids to acquire complex technical skills. One 13-year-old girl I interviewed, Lea, was a regular on a server called Total Freedom but became annoyed that its administrators weren’t clamping down on griefing. So she asked if she could become an administrator, and the owners said yes.

For a few months, Lea worked as a kind of cop on that beat. A software tool called “command spy” let her observe records of what players had done in the game; she teleported miscreants to a sort of virtual “time out” zone. She was eventually promoted to the next rank — “telnet admin,” which allowed her to log directly into the server via telnet, a command-­line tool often used by professionals to manage servers. Being deeply involved in the social world of Minecraft turned Lea into something rather like a professional systems administrator. “I’m supposed to take charge of anybody who’s breaking the rules,” she told me at the time.

Not everyone has found the online world of Minecraft so hospitable. One afternoon while visiting the offices of Mouse, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan that runs high-tech programs for kids, I spoke with Tori. She’s a quiet, dry-­witted 17-year-old who has been playing Minecraft for two years, mostly in single-­player mode; a recent castle-­building competition with her younger sister prompted some bickering after Tori won. But when she decided to try an online server one day, other players — after discovering she was a girl — spelled out “BITCH” in blocks.

She hasn’t gone back. A group of friends sitting with her in the Mouse offices, all boys, shook their heads in sympathy; they’ve seen this behavior “everywhere,” one said. I have been unable to find solid statistics on how frequently harassment happens in Minecraft. In the broader world of online games, though, there is more evidence: An academic study of online players of Halo, a shoot-’em-up game, found that women were harassed twice as often as men, and in an unscientific poll of 874 self-­described online gamers, 63 percent of women reported “sex-­based taunting, harassment or threats.” Parents are sometimes more fretful than the players; a few told me they didn’t let their daughters play online. Not all girls experience harassment in Minecraft, of course — Lea, for one, told me it has never happened to her — and it is easy to play online without disclosing your gender, age or name. In-game avatars can even be animals.

How long will Minecraft’s popularity endure? It depends very much on Microsoft’s stewardship of the game. Company executives have thus far kept a reasonably light hand on the game; they have left major decisions about the game’s development to Mojang and let the team remain in Sweden. But you can imagine how the game’s rich grass-roots culture might fray. Microsoft could, for example, try to broaden the game’s appeal by making it more user-­friendly — which might attenuate its rich tradition of information-­sharing among fans, who enjoy the opacity and mystery. Or a future update could tilt the game in a direction kids don’t like. (The introduction of a new style of combat this spring led to lively debate on forums — some enjoyed the new layer of strategy; others thought it made Minecraft too much like a typical hack-and-slash game.) Or an altogether new game could emerge, out-­Minecrafting Minecraft.

But for now, its grip is strong. And some are trying to strengthen it further by making it more accessible to lower-­income children. Mimi Ito has found that the kids who acquire real-world skills from the game — learning logic, administering servers, making YouTube channels — tend to be upper middle class. Their parents and after-­school programs help them shift from playing with virtual blocks to, say, writing code. So educators have begun trying to do something similar, bringing Minecraft into the classroom to create lessons on everything from math to history. Many libraries are installing Minecraft on their computers."
2016  clivethompson  education  videogames  games  minecraft  digitalculture  gaming  mimiito  robinsloan  coding  computationalthinking  stem  programming  commandline  ianbogost  walterbenjamin  children  learning  resilience  colinfanning  toys  lego  wood  friedrichfroebel  johnlocke  rebeccamir  mariamontessori  montessori  carltheodorsorensen  guilds  mentoring  mentorship  sloyd  denmark  construction  building  woodcrafting  woodcraft  adventureplaygrounds  material  logic  basic  mojang  microsoft  markuspersson  notch  modding  photoshop  texturepacks  elinorostrom  collaboration  sethfrey  civics  youtube  networkedlearning  digitalliteracy  hacking  computers  screentime  creativity  howwelearn  computing  froebel 
april 2016 by robertogreco
From park bench to lab bench - What kind of future are we designing? | Ruha Benjamin | TEDxBaltimore - YouTube
"From Park Bench to Lab Bench: What kind of future are we designing? - Ruha challenges biases inherent to modern scientific research.

Ruha is on the faculty at Princeton University. Her work examines the relationship between innovation & equity, science & citizenship, health & justice."
ruhabenjamin  design  equity  innovation  citizenship  civics  justice  socialjustice  society  2015  discrimination  hostility  benches  furniture  publicspace  privatization  urbanism  urban  discriminatorydesign  housing  publicsafety  education  policy  politics  loitering  homelessness  henriettalacks 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Democracy and the common good | Deborah Meier on Education
"I am taking note of all the ways we are privatizing our society and abandoning our belief in democracy, the “common good”, the public space, call it what you will. The New York Times (Nov 2nd) had a front page headline on the “Privatization of the Justice System.” We have always known it helps sway the judge and jury if you are rich, have top lawyers, etc. But this is about the many areas in which people often unwittingly agree to give up their right to ever see a judge and jury if they have a grievance, but are forced to use private arbitrators and cannot sign on to any class-action suit.

The more egalitarian our definition of citizenship the more concern there is by some about the “idea” of one person, one vote. Too many of the choices the privatizers are now suggesting open up more possibilities for some than others. The choice of going to a private school with a voucher is not actually a choice if you haven’t the means to pay the difference or aren’t “chosen.” Yes, you have a choice of cars to buy…but. The data I have read about the number of poor people who do not have the choice of a lawyer to represent their interests. No surprise: some choices cost a lot ore than others.

The idea of democracy comes out of an idea of the “common good”—a way to hold rulers accountable to all. However who belonged to that “all” was not everyone. Sometimes it was, in fact, a very small proportion of the entire population. But it assumed that among those who had full citizenship there was good reason to have considerable trust. It assumed that most citizens had their peers interest at heart, even if they interpreted it differently. It assumed free speech, free assembly, and mutual respect— win some, lose some. It was an answer to royal inherited power—instead “the people” had the power. When we expanded full citizenship to include men without property, women, former slaves, etc. it naturally become harder to identity what our “common interests” were. Some “wins” seemed too dangerous to those with more power to let free choice play itself out. It was not obvious to some parents, for example, that “their” precious child was of equal interest to those who determined school policy.

That is what we are struggling with these days in school “reform”—and it will not be easily solved in a society that holds private space as more precious than public space, especially when some have a lot more private space than others have, in the order of thousands of times more."
deborahmeier  2015  society  democracy  commongood  public  publicspace  publicgood  citizenship  civics  commoninterests  individualism  privatization  capitalism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups - The Atlantic
[This is Josephine: https://josephine.com/ ]

"I work some days from a small office in San Francisco, and every day, I gotta eat. For a stretch of several weeks this year, I obtained my lunch from an iPhone app called Sprig.

It’s a beautiful piece of software. A trompe l’oeil table offers a compact slate of choices for lunch and dinner, all photographed beautifully from above. On the day I’m writing this, I can get a Caesar salad ($11), blackened chicken with broccoli ($11), a lamb-kofta wrap ($11), a tequila-lime shrimp salad ($13), or a kimchi veggie bowl ($10). Everything is organic, with sources all specified. The chicken comes from Petaluma.

* * *

I work some days from my apartment in Berkeley, and every day, I gotta eat. Two or three times a month, I obtain lunch or dinner from a network called Josephine.

The first time I encountered Josephine, its website was a bare page that instructed you to enter your phone number and “join our SMS list.” The design is only slightly more elaborate today; there’s still no iPhone app.

Josephine doesn’t prepare any meals itself. Instead, it screens home cooks and takes orders on their behalf. On the day I’m writing this, I can get carrot soup ($11) from Lisa in Oakland or pho ($13) from Hai in Emeryville. That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow, there’s chicken and dumplings ($11) from Suzie in Albany or veggie enchiladas ($8) from Afiba in Fruitvale. The menu extends out two weeks; Josephine is less “I’m hungry now” and more “I expect to be hungry on Thursday, so I’d better line something up.” The photography is rough-and-ready, Etsy-caliber, and the dishes are described by the cooks themselves.

* * *

Sprig sells on speed: From selection to delivery, it’s twenty minutes. The experience is identical to an order from Seamless or GrubHub. A harried courier extracts your meal from a fat insulated bag; you say “thank you,” close the door, and feel bad for a moment about the differences between your lives. Five stars.

Meals from Sprig arrive reliably deflated from their in-app depictions: soggier, less composed. The quality of the food ranges, in my experience, from “sure, I can eat this” to very good indeed. It’s approximately equivalent to what you’d get in a nice cafeteria; better than Kaiser Permanente’s, not as good as Facebook’s.

“Gotta eat” is a rumble in the belly, a business opportunity, and a public-health crisis all rolled into one, and to address it, Sprig is building the biggest, nicest cafeteria ever. The ambition is clear: Sprig in every city, with longer menus, better ingredients, faster delivery. I can see them: the drones dropping lamb kofta from the sky.

But there’s more to any cafeteria than the serving line, and Sprig’s app offers no photograph of that other part. This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

* * *

Meals from Josephine are not available for delivery.

On the day of your order, a text message arrives bearing a street address. You ride over on your bicycle and spot a Josephine sign taped to the front door, which is ajar. You step inside; the feeling is both clandestine and transgressive. In the kitchen, the cook—your neighbor—is working. Maybe another customer—also your neighbor—is lingering. You announce yourself, say hello, receive your meal. Chat a bit, if you like. Carry it home in a bag dangling from your handlebars.

It definitely takes more than twenty minutes.

But I will tell you that my Josephine pickups have been utterly reliable generators of smiles and warm feelings. I look forward to them, not just because “gotta eat,” but because they unlock my neighborhood, fill in the blank spaces on my mental map. And of course, it’s always fun to see the insides of other people’s houses.

The seriousness of Josephine’s cooks ranges widely. Some are clearly demi-professionals, as polished and efficient as Airbnb hosts; others seem surprised to have people in their kitchen. Some offer fat slices of cornbread as impulse buys; others seem happy to have finished their soup in time.

What unites them is this: They are your neighbors; they have cooked a dish of their own design; they have invited you into their home.

I flaked on a Josephine meal once, and as the pick-up window was closing, my phone rang. It was the cook. “I can leave it out for you,” she offered. I demurred. “Oh, okay,” she said. Her voice betrayed her disappointment. I felt bad all night.

* * *

Sprig started in 2013. Its four founders have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $50 million so far. (It is safe to assume the words "Uber for food" were uttered along the way.) Currently, you can order in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Chicago—the last of which is clearly the test case for national expansion. The Sprig careers page advertises openings in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, and Austin.

Josephine started in 2014. Its two founders also have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $600,000 so far. Mark Bittman recently joined its board of directors. Josephine’s home cooks are mainly scattered around Oakland and Berkeley. In October, the company listed its first batch of meals for San Francisco; on the day I’m writing, there are three home cooks in the city.

If Sprig projects an Amazon-like relentlessness, Josephine feels tenuous; some days, it seems almost too good for this world, too “eat your vegetables,” literally and figuratively. It’s convenient, but not THAT convenient. When it needs more cooks, it can’t simply hire them. Its viability in neighborhoods beyond the Bay Area will depend on instruments subtler than a war chest and an expansion playbook.

* * *

We are alive at a time when huge systems—industrial, infrastructural—are being remade, and I think it’s our responsibility as we make choices both commercial and civic—it’s just a light responsibility, don’t stress—to extrapolate forward, and ask ourselves: Is this a system I want to live inside? Is this a system fit for humans?

It’s like this:

Sprig-type operations drain agency and expertise out of the world. They centralize, aiming to build huge hubs with small spokes; their innermost mechanisms are hidden. They depend on humans behaving as interchangeable units of labor.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Sprig, no one cooks who is not employed by this kind of company.

Josephine cultivates agency and expertise. It decentralizes, aims to build a dense mesh, neighborhood-scale; its mechanisms are public. It depends on humans developing their specific, idiosyncratic tastes and skills.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Josephine, many people don’t cook, but some people cook a lot more, and better, than ever before, and all of us, cooks and non-cooks, derive pleasure from that. We meet on the sidewalk carrying warm veggie enchiladas.

What kills me is the plausibility of the Josephine future. This isn’t some utopian vision; there’s a scale model working in the East Bay today. Neighborhoods everywhere are full of cooks, or would-be cooks; the talent and the desire is thick on the ground.

Josephine employs the most basic tools of telecommunications to make a market and match “gotta eat” with “wanna cook.” This could be the system! The rumble in the belly, the business opportunity, the public-health crisis: The answer to all of it might be waiting next door.

We make these choices, bit by bit. I stopped ordering from Sprig back in the spring, because (a) I don’t like that future and (b) they sent me a truly sub-par chicken sandwich.

Every couple of weeks, or whenever I think of it, I check Josephine for something nearby. The food is always good, at least friend-cooking-dinner good and often better, but honestly, the future is what sells it."
robinsloan  systems  systemsthinking  2015  amazon  sprig  uber  efficiency  josephine  markbittman  decentralization  civics  society  neighborhoods  community  humanity  future  food  cooking  eating  slow  slowness  relentlessness  neighbors  neighborliness  dystopia  technosolutionism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The MASSIVE SMALL Compendium: Build a better urban society by Kelvin Campbell — Kickstarter
"In an increasingly complex and changing world, where global problems are felt locally, the systems we use to plan, design and build our towns and cities are doomed to failure. Governments alone cannot solve these problems. We believe there is another way and we can show you how. 

We are creating a concise body of collective knowledge designed to change our top-down systems: a book of lessons from the field; an online submissions platform to collect, develop and share knowledge; a visual framework for building action; and a manual of evolving ideas, tools and tactics both printed and later online. These help and inspire people and government to work together, allowing communities to shape their own environments and make towns and cities that work for us, not against us. We call it the MASSIVE SMALL Compendium."
small  hierarchy  horizontality  2015  government  grassroots  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  civics 
october 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
High-income Americans are more segregated than ever | Stanford Graduate School of Education
"“If advantaged families do not share social environments and public institutions with low‐income families, they may be less likely to support investment in these shared resources. Such a shift in collective commitment to the public good may have far‐reaching consequences for social inequality,” said Reardon."
inequality  seanreardon  kendrabischoff  segregation  2015  us  civics  socialgood  publicgood  incomeinequality 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
New Topics in Social Computing: Data and Education by EyebeamNYC
"In this discussion, we will consider how younger generations are growing up with data collection normalized and with increasingly limited opportunities to opt-out. Issues of surveillance, privacy, and consent have particular implications in the context of school systems. As education and technology writer Audrey Watters explains, “many journalists, politicians, entrepreneurs, government officials, researchers, and others … argue that through mining and modeling, we can enhance student learning and predict student success.” Administrators, even working with the best intentions, might exaggerate systemic biases or create other unintended consequences through use of new technologies. We we consider new structural obstacles involving metrics like learning analytics, the labor politics of data, and issues of data privacy and ownership.

Panelists: Sava Saheli Singh, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Karen Gregory"
savasahelisingh  tressiemcmillancottom  karengregory  education  personalization  race  class  gender  2015  publicschools  testing  privacy  government  audreywatters  politics  policy  surveillance  consent  social  journalism  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  labor  work  citizenship  civics  learninganalytics  technology  edtech  data  society  socialcontract 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Which is the cleanest city in the world? | Cities | The Guardian
"Fines, public humiliation and citizen action – every city has a different way of dealing with urban cleanliness. But is it community clean-ups or strict municipal laws that have the most success in making a city spotless?"



"There are less punitive ways to be clean and tidy, however. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, seems to have achieved a clean and litter-free environment without the threat of harsh fines. Not on any of Mercer’s lists, modern Kigali isn’t exactly beautiful. It rises up on a tree-covered slope and is mainly built of concrete, but the level of upkeep is extraordinary.

Indeed, the city’s roundabouts are so well-swept and the grass so well-maintained that wedding couples sprint across the traffic to be photographed in the middle of them. Unusually, this has been achieved not through punishment, but by the principle of Umuganda. This word has many meanings relating to “community” and “payment”, and dates back before Rwanda was part of Belgium’s African empire.

In the 19th century, a number visitors recorded that Rwandans were required to work two days a week for their community leader and during Belgian rule Umuganda was encouraged as a way of bolstering civic responsibility. In the years before the 1994 genocide, President Juvénal Habyarimana emphasised it as part of his concept of “true” Rwandan identity. “True Rwandans” provided free labour for state-led projects like school building, road works, the construction of sanitation facilities and digging of anti-erosion ditches. Unfortunately Habyarimana’s true Rwandans, by extension, also belonged to the Hutu tribe, and Umuganda eventually became caught up in ideas of racial purity.

After taking office in 2000, President Paul Kagame harnessed Umuganda to help clean up his gun and shell-strewn capital, as well as to promote the idea of a cohesive national identity through communal projects. Under Kagame, Umuganda was formalised as a collective event on the last Saturday in each month when traffic – including airport taxis – is stopped for three hours in the morning, and the city comes together to tidy up. This can be problematic if you have a flight to catch. This day is called umunsi w’umuganda (contribution made by the community) and all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required by law to participate. The knock-on effect of such conscientious cleaning up is, of course, that people are less inclined to drop litter in the first place."



"So, if Singapore is proof that cleanliness can be achieved by legislation, Kigali and Dar es Salaam are definitely proof that motivation and communal spirit can work as well. Calgary, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. It’s also the least interesting of the three cities to visit – but that’s a whole other list.

Finally one has to ask, does it matter? Last year a Ugandan looking at Kigali told me wistfully that Kampala used to be as pristine as Kigali: “Why can’t we keep our capital clean and tidy anymore?”

So, if you live there I think it matters, very much."
cities  uban  urbanism  rwanda  umuganda  community  civics  responsibility  civicresponsibility  kigali  kampala  uganda  daressalaam  communalism  communalspirit  tanzania  singapore  via:anabjain  cleanliness  litter  calgary  zurich  adelaide  honolulu  minneapolis  kobe  tidiness  china  paulkagame 
june 2015 by robertogreco
CivicLab, a place for co-working, workshops and innovation for civic engagement,
"CivicLab is a co-working space in Chicago’s West Loop at 114 N. Aberdeen Street dedicated collaboration, education and innovation for social justice and civic engagement. We’re a “do tank.” Our call to service is – Investigate. Fabricate. Educate. Activate. We opened our doors on July 1, 2013.
Watch a one minute video introduction. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyPqTNjbi40 ]"
civiclab  chicago  coworking  civics  socialjustice  openstudioproject  lcproject  makerspaces  collaboration  education 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A conversation with President David Skorton and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz MFA '95 - CornellCast
"Each year, the Olin Lecture brings to campus an internationally prominent speaker to address a topic relevant to higher education and the current world situation. Junot Díaz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)."

[Great chat with Junot Díaz (is there any other kind?) and I especially love the part towards the end in response to a prompt from the audience about social action.

“There is no more important mandate to anyone living in a society than civic engagement. Civic engagement is just what's owed. There is no person, poor or rich, who does not take more out of this country than what they put back in. No one. There is no one so afflicted that doesn't owe this nation a debt. Civic engagement is how we begin to pay the interest on that debt. And, part of civic engagement is looking for places that we think that we can improve and trying to improve it. It is just something that has been lost for a long time, something that I think isn't valued enough. I think that what you are doing is incredibly important under the most fundamental level of what it means to be alive in a civic society. To give back, to attempt to engage yourself in that way is absolutely essential.

The thing is that we live in a society that has spent the last thirty or forty years promulgating, convincing people that the only thing that matters is you and how much money you have made. A perverse neoliberal individualism that has collapsed a lot of what we would call our civic communities. People aren't just bowling alone, gang. People are also not engaged in civic society the way they used to. They've got us all mad at each other, whether we're Republican or Democrats because that is a way to convince people that this is civic engagement. Partisan politics is not civic engagement. We think it's civic engagement, but it's not. And I think the nature of civic engagement is that in a country like ours, in a moment like ours, it is going to be very hard to convince people to go against the pied piper music of individualism and neoliberal profit-making and to think more seriously about what our community requires and what is owed of all of us. And I think that the nature of this work, is that you are going to find that it is going to be difficult to engage large movements of people. And that despite this, what you do is utterly invaluable.

My sense of this is that you've got to constantly model, you've got to constantly reach out, and you've got to everything you cant that when you're home, or wherever you settle, to go to every damn school and get every teacher who is an ally and let you make a presentation. And try to get allied teachers to come and visit your project so that at least the young people are exposed and given some modeling. And it is the same thing. How many people are at home looking for things to do? And, again, I don't know what community you are in or what kind of space, but if you can sort of figure out a place where there is a lot of traffic that you could present and model your work, you can begin to slowly pull people in. Will it be a lot? No. Will it be as much as you need? Perhaps. Will it be transformational and save individual lives through that engagement and through that reaffirmation of the most important values of our civic society? Absolutely. Being an artist in some ways is no different than being someone who wants to make this country better. there is very little money in it, especially if done correctly.

You know, there is little acclaim and respect. And in fact, there is very few signs that what you're doing is working. And yet, without your presence, what remains is not worth calling a society. Nothing is more a faith-based initiative than the kind of work you're doing. But I would argue, trying to get into the schools, trying to get into the places where a lot of adults flow through who don't have that kind of training or don't have that kind of literacy, and tying to kind of increase the exposure, that is what tends to work best in this battle. And I leave you with this: whether you're someone who is trying to do the work this young sister is doing or you're a teacher trying to convince their students that reading is good, in this battle, it is hand to hand. If you can transform one life, you've given more than most of us can dream. And, that life may do the work the future needs to make the future that we all dreamed possible. And therefore you must stick with it.”

See 1:02:29 for that.]
junotdíaz  art  activism  writing  race  2015  via:javierarbona  howwewrite  whywewrite  experience  socialjustice  us  education  highered  highereducation  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  immigrants  immigration  elitism  politics  struggle  mfas  hardship  gratitude  civics  citizenship  engagement  migration  bilingualism  language  accents  rutgers  cornell  stigma  latinos  patriarchy  capitalism  publicadministration  socialaction  society  movements  storytelling  neoliberalism  individualism  money  wealth  inequality  transformation  modeling  lcproject  openstudioproject  inlcusivity 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Re:publica Keynote: The System is Broken – That’s the Good News | ... My heart’s in Accra
"…Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, in Sofia, Bulgaria. He worries that even if protests like the Indignados or Occupy succeed in ousting a government, much of what protesters are asking for is not possible. “Voters can change governments, yet it is nearly impossible for them to change economic policies.” When Indignados grows into Podemos, Krastev predicts that it’s going to be very hard for them to truly reverse policies on austerity – global financial markets are unlikely to let them do so, punish them by making it impossibly expensive to borrow

Krastev offers the example of how Italy finally got rid of Silvio Berlusconi – wasn’t through popular protest, but through the bond market – the bond market priced italian debt at 6.5%, and Berlusconi resigned, leaving Mario Monti to put austerity measures in place. You may have been glad to see Berlusconi go, but don’t mistake this as a popular revolt that kicked him out – it was a revolt by global lenders, and basically set the tone for what the market would allow an Italian leader to do. As Krastev puts it, “Politics has been reduced to the art of adjusting to the imperatives of the market” – we’ve got an interesting test of whether this theory is right with Syriza, a left-wing party rooted in anti-austerity protests now in power, and facing possible default and exit from the Eurozone this month. What Krastev is saying is really chilling – we can oust bad people through protest and elect the right people and put them in power, we can protest to pressure our leaders to do the right things, and they may not be powerful enough to give us the changes we really want."



"These three approaches – building new institutions, becoming engaged critics of the institutions we’ve got, and looking for ways to build a post-institutional world – all have their flaws. We need the new decentralized systems we build to work as well as the institutions we are replacing, and when Mt. Gox disappears with our money, we’re reminded what a hard task this is. Monitorial citizenship can lead to more responsible institutions, but not to structural change. When we build new companies, codebases and movements, we’ve got to be sure these new institutions we’re creating stay closer to our values than those we mistrust now, and that they’re worthy of the trust of generations to come.

What these approaches have in common is this: instead of letting mistrust of the institutions we have leave us sidelined and ineffective, these approaches make us powerful. Because this is the middle path between the ballot box and the brick – it’s taking the dangerous and corrosive mistrust we now face and using it to build the institutions we deserve. This is the challenge of our generation, to build a better world than the one we inherited, one that’s fairer, more just, one that’s worthy of our trust."
ethanzuckerman  ivankrastev  quinnnorton  zeyneptufekci  democracy  politics  institutions  euope  us  protest  occupywallstreet  ows  voting  decentralization  internet  citizenship  civics  monotorialcitizenship  globalization  finance  capitalism  austerity  markets  indignados  government  power  control 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."



"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."



"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."



"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."



"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Two sentences that perfectly capture what it means to be privileged in America today - Vox
"Giridharadas's point is particularly salient now, as Robert Putnam's book about the growing fissure between upper- and lower-class America is a hot topic in political circles. Toward the end of his talk (around the 16-minute mark), he hammers home the point that there are two Americas, and that many people who reside firmly in the more privileged version don't even realize it.

"Don't console yourself that you are the 99 percent," he says. "If you live near a Whole Foods; if no one in your family serves in the military; if you are paid by the year, not the hour; if most people you know finished college; if no one you know uses meth; if you married once and remain married; if you're not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what's going on, and you may be part of the problem."

Harsh as that sounds, Giridharadas gets at an important point that Putnam also echoed in a recent interview with Vox: as the highest and lowest incomes in the US move further apart, well-off and low-income Americans also know less and less about each other and what it truly means to be from another social class. Indeed, only 1 percent of Americans consider themselves upper-class. As economic segregation grows, it plays a part in keeping people from climbing up the social ladder."

[YouTube link for Anand Giridharadas's talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i-pNVj5KMw ]

[Response from Connor Kilpatrick:
“Let Them Eat Privilege: Focusing on privilege diverts attention away from the real villains.”
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/1-99-percent-class-inequality/

"By forcing the middle class to divert their attention downward (and within) instead of at the real power players above, Vox and Giridharadas are playing into the Right’s hands. It’s an attempt to shame the middle class — those with some wealth but, relative to the top one or one-tenth of one percent, mere crumbs — to make them shut up about the rich and super rich and, instead, look at those below as a reminder that it could all be much worse.

[…]

Even when the income of the one percent (mostly the bottom half of that select group) is derived primarily from high salaries (as opposed to returns on investment) it’s far more likely to be reinvested in shares, bonds, and real estate — and of course elite educations and other opportunities for their children — than the income of the middle 40 percent, who have hardly anything left once the bills are paid.

That means that even with nothing more than a killer W-2, the salaried lower half of the one percent still have the means to consolidate themselves as an elite class while the rest of us are immiserated.

When a cut in capital gains taxes is paid for by hiking state tuition and slashing social services, the one percent benefits while the vast majority of the 99 percent loses. When a new law is passed making it harder to organize a union or wages are squeezed to ring out higher and higher corporate profits, it’s the one percent — and their investment portfolios — that benefits and the majority of the 99 percent who loses.

It’s real winners and losers — not a state of mind and not a “culture.” And it works like this:

[chart]

What’s bad for you economically is probably good for them. That’s why the rest of us will have to come in conflict with this tiny elite and its institutions if we’re going win a more just and egalitarian future for ourselves.

By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.

It’s a conclusion that, despite Vox’s endorsement, plays into conservatives’ hands. Like the journalist Robert Fitch once wrote, it is the aim of the Right “to restrict the scope of class conflict — to bring it down to as low a level as possible. The smaller and more local the political unit, the easier it is to run it oligarchically.”

So why turn inward? Why argue over who’s got the sweeter deal and how we’re all responsible for the gross inequity of society when it’s not that much more than a tiny sliver of millionaires and billionaires at Davos sipping wine and rubbing shoulders with politicians?

Let’s try worrying more about knowing thy enemy — and building solidarity from that recognition. “Check your privilege?” Sure. But for once, let’s try checking it against the average hedge fund manager instead of a random Whole Foods shopper."]
anandgiridharadas  inequality  privilege  2015  race  military  employment  work  labor  drugs  addiction  poverty  education  marriage  class  robertputnam  politics  secondchances  religion  islam  mercy  forgiveness  grace  us  humanism  segregation  lifeexpectancy  healthcare  faith  civics  law  legal  capitalpunishment  deathpenalty  raisuddinbhuiyan  markstroman  connorkilpatrick 
april 2015 by robertogreco
s p a c i n g : : : whose space is public space?
"Sometimes I feel an urgent need to get out of Toronto, and this is one of those times. The strain does not come from difficult friendships or celebrity magazines or the noise, so much as my relationship to my fellow pedestrian. The crisis is almost always a crisis about strangers; it’s a crisis of eye contact. Someone approaches and the problem of whether to look away or look at them — and if to look, how long to keep looking for — does not resolve itself easily, quietly, in the background. It becomes a loud problem, and as people pass by, the anxiety of how to act and this question about responsibility to my fellow humans, paid out in a momentary acknowledgement of our mutual humanity, prohibits me from thinking about anything else.

In such a state it is difficult to accept that we really are free on the streets of Toronto; free to look or not look as we choose, without consequence and without affecting anyone for the better or worse. In times like these, it feels as though what it means to look at someone and what it means to decide to not look is as central an ethical dilemma as any; that the question of our responsibility to each other really comes down to how we interact with people we do not know. What degree of regard are the hundreds of strangers we pass in a single day worth?

That walking among others should present itself as a dilemma is pathetic. Perhaps it is because we are primarily a culture of drivers, not pedestrians. Even if we do not drive, still we share the streets with many who do, who do not occupy the sidewalks with pleasure but rather are wishing there was less space to travel between the restaurant and their parked car. “Urbanity and automobiles are antithetical in many ways,” writes Rebecca Solnit in Wanderlust, a history of walking. “A city of drivers is only a dysfunctional suburb of people shuttling from private interior to private interior.” This is also true in a city of transit users — we rush to the streetcar stop, take a seat, look through whatever newspaper is lying closest. Walking is no longer, as Solnit points out, “a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned.” As a result, we are jarred by our encounters. Eye contact is an irritation. It disrupts the work of getting somewhere.

Most of us accept as inevitable the sort of eye contact that is most pervasive, that rushed and fearful glance. You might argue that this way of looking is respectful; that since privacy is so scarce in a city, it is gracious to look away. But I have experienced such gentle looks away — giving them, getting them — and they’re not what I am talking about and not the norm. There still remains that quick glance away, which often leaves me with a feeling of shame or a sense of the diminishment of my humanity. And as I sweep my eyes rapidly from someone’s face onto the mailbox, I recognize that, in my wake, I may leave that person with this same anxiety.

For some people, it seems clear, if someone looks quickly and uncomfortably away as soon as eye contact is made, no matter. This crisis doesn’t exist for them; the interaction barely registers. I wonder if such people are suffering from what George Simmel calls “the blasé attitude.” He defines it as the result of the over-stimulation of nerves that accompanies life in a metropolis, which results in a “blunting of discrimination, [so] that the meaning and differing values of things, and thereby the things themselves, are experienced as insubstantial. They appear to the blasé person in an evenly flat and gray tone; no one object deserves preference over any other.” The lamppost, that boy, same difference.

But for those of us who are not suffering from the blasé attitude, who are very conscious of the reality of the people we encounter, why do we look away embarrassed or scared, rather than gently, politely, in good conscience? Perhaps in every glance there is desire expressed. I don’t mean sexual desire — though sometimes there’s that — as much as the sort Constant Nieuwenheuys described when he wrote, in 1949, “When we say desire in the twentieth century, we mean the unknown, for all we know of the realm of our desires is that it continuously reverts to one immeasurable desire for freedom.”

Perhaps the desire expressed in every glance, that we see in another person’s face and they see in ours, is a desire for freedom — which on the street comes down to the freedom to look at each other. We are naturally curious about other people. From the start, as babies, we are drawn to the eyes of our parents. Imagine a cat, neurotically trying not to look directly at a passing cat. We need eye-to-eye contact. We want to see each others’ faces. It is why we take and keep photographs, watch television, hang portraits in our homes. There is something terrible about looking at each other, only to have reflected back our own (and the other person’s) thwarted, repressed desire to look. Somewhere we have failed magnificently.

Our culture is such that a greater value even than freedom is productivity, utility. I was having a conversation with a friend about leisure, and she was saying how much she enjoys doing nothing, just wandering aimlessly around her house, thinking. “I find it so productive,” she decided. Even an activity we enjoy precisely because it is not about production we must ultimately justify by way of its productivity. This being the situation we find ourselves in, how can we ever justify to ourselves or to each other the value of those most fleeting relationships, lasting at most two seconds long, with a stream of people we will never see again? What is the utility of the quarter-of-a-second-long relationship?

When we look and look away, we reveal what we want — communion, citizenry — and what we lack — communion, citizenry. It is not unreasonable to think the health of a culture can be judged by how many seemingly inconsequential encounters and experiences are shared among its citizens. Take the option of making real eye contact with strangers — frank, fully conscious, unafraid, respectful, not obtrusive. This level of engagement would be satisfying, but so exhausting to sustain; possibly too relentless and demanding for a city-dweller, since to look at someone in this way is to acknowledge and recognize how they’re like you, how they are like everyone you know and love, and so to become responsible for them, just as you are responsible for those you love. But while your duty to your friend is directed only at your friend, as needed, your duty to a stranger can be paid only to the collective, constantly.

We need to learn how to look away well, but we cannot fake it. We cannot look from someone’s face comfortably until we find what we are looking for in it."

[quoted here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/02/27/look-and-look-away/ ]
sheilaheti  communition  citizenship  civics  productivity  community  privacy  unknown  constantnieuwenheuys  strangers  attention  consciousness  culture  society  collectivism  utility  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  nothing  wandering  idleness  relationships  togetherness 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Ideas About Education Reform: 22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years by Terry Heick
"22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years
by Terry Heick

Saw a picture today from the 1970s of a mother driving her car with her newborn baby in the passenger seat (no car seat). This, of course, got me thinking about education. What do we do now that in 25 years we’ll look back on and shake our heads? What are our “doctors smoking cigarettes while giving check ups” moments? I have a feeling we’re going to look back and be really confused by quite a bit. There’s probably a lot more than this, but I had to stop somewhere.

22 Things Education Does That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years

1. We separated literacy from content.
And were confused when we couldn’t properly untangle them.

2. Meter progress by grade levels.
Right now, progress through academia is incremental, like inches on a ruler. These increments are marked by “grade levels,” which really has no meaning other than the artificial one schools have given it in the most self-justifying, circular argument ever.

3. We frowned upon crowdsourced content (e.g., Wikipedia)
Even though it has more updates and cross-checks than more traditional sources of info. It’s not perfect, but it’s the future. Err, present.

4. We gave vacations.
Why do we feel the need to provide months off at a time from learning to read, write, and think? We made school so bad that students couldn’t stand to do it without “vacations”? We cleaved it so cleanly from their daily lives that they “stopped” learning for months at a time?

5. We closed off schools from communities.
Which was the first (of many) errors. Then we let the media report on school progress under terms so artificially binary that we ended up dancing to the drum of newspaper headlines and political pressure.

6. We made it clumsy and awkward for teachers to share curriculum.
Seriously. How is there no seamless, elegant, and mobile way to do this?

7. We turned content into standards.
This makes sense until you realize that, by design, the absolute best this system will yield is students that know content.

8. We were blinded by data, research, and strategies….
..so we couldn’t see the communities, emotions, and habits that really drive learning.

9. We measured mastery once.
At the end of the year in marathon testing. And somehow this made sense? And performance on these tests gave us data that informed the very structures our schools were iterated with over time? Seriously? And we wonder why we chased our tails?

10. We spent huge sums of money on professional development.
While countless free resources floated around us in the digital ether. Silly administrators.

11. We reported progress with report cards.
Hey, I’ve tried other ways and parents get confused and downright feisty. We did a poor job helping parents understand what
grades really meant, and so they insisted on the formats they grew up with.

12. We banned early mobile technology (in this case, smartphones).
And did so for entirely non-academic reasons.

13. We shoehorned technology into dated learning models.
Like adding rockets to a tractor. Why did we not replace the tractor first?

14. We measured mastery with endless writing prompts and multiple-choice tests.
Which, while effective in spots, totally missed the brilliant students who, for whatever reason, never could shine on them.

15. We had parent conferences twice a year.
What? And still only had 15% of parents show up? And we didn’t completely freak out? We must’ve been really sleepy.

16. We ignored apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship is a powerful form of personalized learning that completely marries “content,” performance, craft, and
communities. But try having a 900 apprentices in a school. So much for that.

17. We claimed to “teach students to think for themselves.”
LOL

18. We often put 1000 or more students in the same school.
And couldn’t see how the learning could possibly become industrialized.

19. We frowned on lectures.
Even though that’s essentially what TED Talks are. Instead of making them engaging and interactive multimedia performances led by adults that love their content, we turned passionate teachers into clinical managers of systems and data.

20. We ignored social learning.
And got learning that was neither personal nor social. Curious.

21. We tacked on digital citizenship.
The definition of digital citizenship is “the quality of actions, habits, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” This is artificial to teach outside of the way students use these tools and places on a daily basis–which makes hanging a “digital citizenship” poster or teaching a “digital citizenship” lesson insufficient.
Like literacy, it needs to be fully integrated into the learning experiences of students.

22. We turned to curriculum that was scripted and written by people thousands of miles away.
We panicked, and it was fool’s gold.

Bonus 23. We chewed teachers up and spit them out
We made teachers entirely responsible for planning, measuring, managing, and responding to both mastery and deficiency. And through peer pressure, a little brainwashing, and appealing to their pride, somehow convinced them they really were."
education  schools  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  terryheick  literacy  content  curriculum  gradelevels  agesegregation  crowdsourcing  wikipedia  community  vacations  standards  standardization  preofessionaldevelopment  money  waste  bureaucracy  technology  edtech  mobile  phones  smartphones  criticalthinking  socialemotional  civics  citizenship  digitalcitizenship  social  learning  lectures  data  bigdata  quantification  apprenticeships  testing  standardizedtesting  assessment  fail  sharing  socialemotionallearning 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Student Bill of Rights
"We believe that all students should have a voice, and that all students should have the ability to vote on issues in their schools that matter to them. The Student Bill of Rights is a way for students and education stakeholders to do exactly that. Below, you’ll find a list of a variety of different issues that matter to students. To make your voice heard, simply select one and share your thoughts, or add new ideas to vote on. Sign up for the email list below to stay updated on our pilot launch."
students  education  rights  billofrights  studentbillofrights  humanrights  expression  safety  well-being  learning  howwelearn  agency  information  privacy  security  surveillance  employment  assessment  technology  inclusivity  inclusion  diversity  civics  participation  studentvoice  voice  inlcusivity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Fumblr
"Your place to vent on the city issues San Diego's "droipped the ball" on"



"San Diego's exploring its options around building a new Chargers stadium, something the team and the mayor both say has hung over the city's head for more than a decade. But plenty of Voice of San Diego readers and members have brought up other issues they think the city needs to address first.

What city issues has San Diego dropped the ball on? Maybe it's never-ending construction on streets in your neighborhood, a nearby lot that's sat vacant for years or lackluster support for the city's cultural institutions or police force. Maybe you think the city's taken too long to build a new stadium.

Tell us about it or share your photos where appropriate. Click on "Submit a Fumble" below for details on how to weigh in."
voiceofsandiego  tumblr  sandiego  city  civics  participatory 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hack Education Weekly Newsletter, No. 101
"Every week, I take all the essays and articles that I’ve bookmarked and sift through them in order to craft this newsletter. I’m always struck by how many weird and ridiculous claims are made about education and technology, both in the “mainstream” and industry press. (I don’t know why this continues to surprise me, and the right response, quite arguably, is to neither link to nor write for [http://www.jessestommel.com/blog/files/dear-chronicle.html ] these publications…)

There’s the continuous clarion call for more data collection, more automation, more engineering, more scientific management, and of course more disruptive innovation. These are the narratives loudly trying to shape the future.
Of course, these narratives are intertwined with power and policies. As Alan Jacobs notes [http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/surveillance-and-care/ ], we confuse surveillance with care. We confuse surveillance with self-knowledge, Rob Horning adds [http://robhorningtni.tumblr.com/post/112618248845/your-permanent-record ]:
I don’t think self-knowledge can be reduced to matters of data possession and retention; it can’t be represented as a substance than someone can have more or less of. Self-knowledge is not a matter of having the most thorough archive of your deeds and the intentions behind them. It is not a quality of memories, or an amount of data. It is not a terrain to which you are entitled to own the most detailed map. Self-knowledge is not a matter of reading your own permanent record.

We confuse individuals’ acts of (self-)documentation with structural change and justice. We confuse the “sharing economy” for the latter as well. According to Evgeny Morozov:
The citizens, who are not yet fully aware of these dilemmas, might eventually realise that the actual choice we are facing today is not between the market and the state, but between politics and non-politics. It’s a choice between a system bereft of any institutional and political imagination – where some permutation of hackers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is the default answer to every social problem – and a system, where explicitly political solutions that might question who – citizens, firms, the state – ought to own what, and on what terms, are still part of the conversation.

It doesn’t help that so many of these narratives comes from “a town without history,” as Mike Caulfield observes in “People Have the Star Trek Computer Backwards.”

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:450933ec9018 ]
audreywatters  alanjacobs  robhorning  evgenymorozov  2015  surveillance  care  education  edtech  mikecaulfield  data  datacollection  management  scientificmanagement  self-knowledge  caring  permanentrecords  permanentrecord  records  justice  socialhustice  hierarchy  patriarchy  siliconvalley  edreform  technosolutionism  politics  policy  control  power  citizenship  civics  legibility  documentation  assessment  accountability  sharingeconomy  jessestommel  innovation  disruption  disruptiveinnovation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Winter, Ursula Franklin - Home | The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers | CBC Radio
"The news anchor Tom Brokaw coined the term "the greatest generation" to describe the Americans who grew up during the Depression and sustained the ravages of the Second World War. Shelagh thought of that description after she read a book of speeches by the acclaimed scientist, pacifist, and feminist Ursula Franklin.

Ursula Franklin isn't an American but she is a member of that great generation of people shaped personally by the War - very personally in her case.  

She was born in Germany and spent the war in a forced labour camp. Her parents were both in concentration camps.. Miraculously, all three survived and came to Canada. 

Ursula Franklin has spent her life in this country devoted, as she says, to "being useful". She's put her intelligence, discernment, and humanity to many uses. She's a physicist who has made important discoveries and advancements in science, a Quaker who has advocated tirelessly in the service of peace, and a ground breaking feminist.
 
Ursula Franklin Speaks is a collection of speeches and interviews from 1986 to 2012. She collaborated on it with her friend and University of Toronto colleague Sarah Jane Freeman. 

We hope you enjoy this extended version of Shelagh's conversation with Dr. Ursula Franklin."
ursulafranklin  2015  interviews  feminism  quakers  shelaghrogers  canada  collectivism  citizenship  humanism  pacifism  clarity  patriarchy  capitalism  privatization  socialism  scrupling  scruples  hope  hopelessness  optimism  change  civics  activism  discourse  problemsolving  townmeetings  commongood  conversation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Civic San Diego Consensus Project by MindMixer
"The Community Benefits Consensus Project is a broad-based network of neighborhood stakeholders working collaboratively to help shape Civic San Diego's community benefits goals."



"Civic San Diego’s Community Benefits Consensus Project is a bold initiative to create a broad-based network of stakeholders (residents, planners, developers, nonprofits, policy-makers and others)* who collaborate to form the agency’s community benefits goals.

The term community benefit** is used to describe the variety of quality of life improvements, amenities and/or mitigations that may be provided to residents impacted by development projects occurring in their neighborhoods. Civic believes that collaborative community benefits strategies can create opportunities for economic growth, particularly in historically under-invested neighborhoods. Civic seeks to craft a community benefits policy that leverages the diversity of stakeholders' experience, expertise, ingenuity and goals for their neighborhoods.

The initiative is using MindMixer to empower San Diegans to discuss their priorities, collaborate to evolve ideas, and identify shared values. This technology will optimize Civic’s efforts to connect with and engage diverse stakeholders with diverse perspectives on what’s best for the neighborhoods they care about. "MindMixer will help us to sort through what we’re hearing; to exchange quality information with the public; and ultimately, to foster community benefits strategies that are responsive to neighborhood priorities on a project-by-project basis,” said Civic San Diego President, Reese A. Jarrett.

* Elected and appointed officials may wish to consult with legal counsel prior to participating in this online forum.

**A community benefit may promote strategic economic growth - catalyzing development in under-invested neighborhoods, or creating quality jobs and jobs training programs, or incentivizing local hiring. A community benefit may improve neighborhood infrastructure - expanding access to parks, public art or recreational opportunities, or repairing sidewalks, or installing brighter street lights. A community benefit may result in more grocery stores, community gardens, and healthy food options. A community benefit may ensure that residents have diverse and affordable housing choices; it may encourage water conversation; or even expand free internet access in public spaces."
sandiego  civics  forums  mindmixer  community 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Problem with 'Grit,' KIPP, and Character-Based Education | The New Republic
"The second problem with the new character education is that it unwittingly promotes an amoral and careerist “looking out for number one” point-of-view. Never before has character education been so completely untethered from morals, values, and ethics. From the inception of our public school system in the 1840s and 1850s, character education has revolved around religious and civic virtues. Steeped in Protestantism and republicanism, the key virtues taught during the nineteenth-century were piety, industry, kindness, honesty, thrift, and patriotism. During the Progressive era, character education concentrated on the twin ideas of citizenship and the “common good.” As an influential 1918 report on “moral values” put it, character education “makes for a better America by helping its pupils to make themselves better persons.” In the 1960s and 1970s, meanwhile, character education focused on justice and working through thorny moral dilemmas.

Today’s grit and self-control are basically industry and temperance in the guise of psychological constructs rather than moral imperatives. Why is this distinction important? While it takes grit and self-control to be a successful heart surgeon, the same could be said about a suicide bomber. When your character education scheme fails to distinguish between doctors and terrorists, heroes and villains, it would appear to have a basic flaw. Following the KIPP growth card protocol, Bernie Madoff’s character point average, for instance, would be stellar. He was, by most accounts, an extremely hard working, charming, wildly optimistic man.

This underscores how genuinely innovative performance-based character education is with respect to eschewing values, especially religiously and civically inspired values such as honesty and service. Kindness is spotlighted in the KIPP motto (“Work Hard, Be Nice”), but it is conspicuously absent from KIPP’s official list of seven character strengths. It is not an accident that KIPP’s list of character strengths does not include items with clear moral overtones. As Levin told Tough: “The thing that I think is great about the character-strength approach is that it is fundamentally devoid of value judgment. The inevitable problem with the values-and-ethics approach is that you get into, well, whose values? Whose ethics?”

The decision to avoid overt references to values was no doubt intended to avoid the potential minefields of the “culture wars.” The trouble is that values have a way of intruding on territory that is meant to be value-free. What happens when your list of character strengths excludes empathy, justice, and service? The basic principle of individual achievement rushes to the forefront, as if filling a vacuum. This is “tiger mother” territory here—a place where the “vulgar sense” of success prevails. Life is narrowed into an endless competition for money, status, and the next merit badge."



"If you click on the video at the top of the “Character” page on the KIPP website, you can watch a poignant clip of a parent describing how she wants her kids “to succeed” and to “have a better life.” KIPP and other similar schools are betting that the new character education will help students succeed academically and professionally. It is a risky bet, given how little we know about teaching character. It is also a bet without precedent, as there has never been a character education program so relentlessly focused on individual achievement and “objective accomplishments.” Gone are any traditional concerns with good and evil or citizenship and the commonweal. Gone, too, the impetus to bring youngsters into the fold of a community that is larger than themselves—a hopelessly outdated sentiment, according to the new character education evangelists. Virtue is no longer its own reward."
education  grit  kipp  2014  jeffreyaaronsnyder  psychology  angeladuckworth  virtue  kindness  ethics  values  schooling  schooliness  careerism  charactereducation  amorality  individualism  civics 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Should Schools Teach Personality? - NYTimes.com
"The focus on character, however, has encountered criticism. The education writer and speaker Alfie Kohn, for instance, argues that grit isn’t always helpful. In a Washington Post essay adapted from his new book, “The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting,” he writes that dogged persistence isn’t the best approach to every situation: “Even if you don’t crash and burn by staying the course, you may not fare nearly as well as if you had stopped, reassessed and tried something else.”

And, he said in an interview, an emphasis on children’s personalities could take attention away from problems with their schools. “Social psychologists for decades have identified a tendency to overestimate how important personality characteristics, motivation, individual values and the like tend to be relative to the importance of the structural characteristics of a situation,” he said. “We tend to think people just need to try harder, or have a better attitude,” but “this tends to miss the boat. What really matters is various aspects of the system itself.”

Truly improving education in America will require “asking about the environment in which kids are placed, what kids are being asked to learn, how they’re being taught, what voice they have, if any, in the experience,” he said. “Every time we focus on personality variables, we are distracted again from addressing the systemic questions that matter.”

And in an essay at The New Republic, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, an educational studies professor at Carleton College, contends that as currently espoused by KIPP, “character-based education is untethered from any conception of morality.” And, he says in an interview, he questions the value of looking at character traits outside a larger moral framework: “What’s the importance of teaching grit if you’re not teaching it in the context of civic education, the public good, social responsibility?” Teaching it without such context “becomes kind of a looking-out-for-number-one-type approach to education.”

As an example of a better way, he points to a school he came across in his research whose students started a community garden during World War I (gardening is also part of the curriculum at some schools today). Planting, growing and distributing food taught many of the same traits that character-education programs hope to instill, he said, “but it’s all richly integrated into a task that has genuine purpose and that makes the students think beyond themselves.”"
education  schools  personality  grit  angeladuckworth  annanorth  arthurporopat  kipp  character  teaching  learning  curriculum  psychology  motivationjeffreyaaronsnyder  morality  civics  socialresponsibility  publicgood  obedience  individualism  conscientiousness  diligence  duty  creativity  curiosity  schooling  schooliness  howweteach  alfiekohn  tomaschamorro-premuzic  2015 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Context collapse, performance piety and civil inattention – the web concepts you need to understand in 2015 | Technology | The Guardian
"Civil inattention
In the 1950s, sociologist Erving Goffman described what happened to humans who live in cities. “When in a public place, one is supposed to keep one’s nose out of other people’s activity and go about one’s own business,” he wrote in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. “It is only when a woman drops a package, or when a fellow motorist gets stalled in the middle of the road, or when a baby left alone in a carriage begins to scream, that middle-class people feel it is all right to break down momentarily the walls which effectively insulate them.” Dara Ó Briain picked up this idea in a standup routine in which he dared people to get into a lift last, and then, instead of facing the door, turn and face the other occupants. It would be truly chilling.

Civil inattention happens all the time in everyday life, unless you’re the kind of a weirdo who joins in other people’s conversations on the train. But we haven’t got the grip of it in the “public squares” of the internet, like social media platforms and comment sections. No one knows who is really talking to whom, and – surprise! – a conversation between anything from two to 2,000 people can feel disorienting and cacophonous. There have been various attempts to combat it – Twitter’s “at sign”, Facebook’s name-tagging, threaded comments – but nothing has yet replicated the streamlined simplicity of real life, where we all just know there is NO TALKING AT THE URINAL.

Conservative neutrality
We live in a world ruled by algorithms: that’s how Netflix knows what you want to watch, how Amazon knows what you want to read and how the Waitrose website knows what biscuits to put in the “before you go” Gauntlet of Treats before you’re allowed to check out. The suggestion is that these algorithms are apolitical and objective, unlike humans, with their petty biases and ingrained prejudices. Unfortunately, as the early computer proverb had it, “garbage in, garbage out”. Any algorithm created in a society where many people are sexist, racist or homophobic won’t magically be free of those things.

Google’s autocomplete is a classic example: try typing “Women are ...” or “Asians are ...” and recoil from the glimpse into our collective subconscious. Christian Rudder’s book Dataclysm discusses how autocomplete might reaffirm prejudices, not merely reflect them: “It’s the site acting not as Big Brother, but as Older Brother, giving you mental cigarettes.” Remember this the next time a tech company plaintively insists that it doesn’t want to take a political stance: on the net, “neutral” often means “reinforces the status quo”.

Context collapse
The problem of communicating online is that, no matter what your intended audience is, your actual audience is everyone. The researchers Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick put it like this: “We may understand that the Twitter or Facebook audience is potentially limitless, but we often act as if it were bounded.”

So, that tasteless joke your best Facebook friend will definitely get? Not so funny when it ends up on a BuzzFeed round-up of The Year’s Biggest Bigots and you get fired. That dating profile where you described yourself as “like Casanova, only with a degree in computing”? Not so winsome when it lands you on Shit I’ve Seen On Tinder and no one believes that you were being sarcastic. On a more serious level, context collapse is behind some “trolling” prosecutions: is it really the role of the state to prosecute people for saying offensive, unpleasant things about news stories in front of other people who have freely chosen to be their friends on Facebook? I don’t think so.

What is happening here is that we are turning everyone into politicians (the horror). We are demanding that everyone should speak the same way, present the same face, in all situations, on pain of being called a hypocrite. But real life doesn’t work like this: you don’t talk the same way to your boss as you do to your boyfriend. (Unless your boss is your boyfriend, in which case I probably don’t need to give you any stern talks on the difficulties of negotiating tricky social situations.) To boil this down, 2015 needs to be the year we reclaim “being two-faced” and “talking behind people’s backs”. These are good things.

Performative piety
What’s Kony up to these days? Did anyone bring back our girls? Yes, surprisingly enough, the crimes of guerrilla groups in Uganda and Nigeria have not been avenged by hashtag activism. The internet is great for what feminists once called “consciousness raising” – after all, it’s a medium in which attention is a currency – but it is largely useless when it comes to the hard, unglamorous work of Actually Sorting Shit Out.

The internet encourages us all into performative piety. People spend time online not just chatting or arguing, but also playing the part of the person they want others to see them as. Anyone who has run a news organisation will tell you that some stories are shared like crazy on social media, but barely read. Leader columns in newspapers used to show the same pattern: research showed that people liked to read a paper with a leader column in it – they just didn’t actually want to read the column.

So, next time you’re online and everyone else seems to be acting like a cross between Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie, relax. They might leave comments saying “WHAT ABOUT SYRIA?” but they have, in fact, clicked on a piece about a milk carton that looks like a penis. As ever, actions speak louder than words."
contextcollapse  2014  internet  socialmedia  communication  conservativeneutrality  algorithms  alicemarwick  kony  performativepiety  activism  performance  presentationofself  online  socialnetworking  privacy  audience  via:chromacolaure  civics  urban  urbanism  twitter  facebook  civilinattention  attention  discourse  ervinggoffman  daraóbriain  silence  inattention  kathysierra  helenlewis  serialpodcast 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Library as Infrastructure
"For millennia libraries have acquired resources, organized them, preserved them and made them accessible (or not) to patrons. But the forms of those resources have changed — from scrolls and codices; to LPs and LaserDiscs; to e-books, electronic databases and open data sets. Libraries have had at least to comprehend, if not become a key node within, evolving systems of media production and distribution. Consider the medieval scriptoria where manuscripts were produced; the evolution of the publishing industry and book trade after Gutenberg; the rise of information technology and its webs of wires, protocols and regulations. 1 At every stage, the contexts — spatial, political, economic, cultural — in which libraries function have shifted; so they are continuously reinventing themselves and the means by which they provide those vital information services.

Libraries have also assumed a host of ever-changing social and symbolic functions. They have been expected to symbolize the eminence of a ruler or state, to integrally link “knowledge” and “power” — and, more recently, to serve as “community centers,” “public squares” or “think tanks.” Even those seemingly modern metaphors have deep histories. The ancient Library of Alexandria was a prototypical think tank, 2 and the early Carnegie buildings of the 1880s were community centers with swimming pools and public baths, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, even rifle ranges, as well as book stacks. 3 As the Carnegie funding program expanded internationally — to more than 2,500 libraries worldwide — secretary James Bertram standardized the design in his 1911 pamphlet “Notes on the Erection of Library Buildings,” which offered grantees a choice of six models, believed to be the work of architect Edward Tilton. Notably, they all included a lecture room.

In short, the library has always been a place where informational and social infrastructures intersect within a physical infrastructure that (ideally) supports that program.

Now we are seeing the rise of a new metaphor: the library as “platform” — a buzzy word that refers to a base upon which developers create new applications, technologies and processes. In an influential 2012 article in Library Journal, David Weinberger proposed that we think of libraries as “open platforms” — not only for the creation of software, but also for the development of knowledge and community. 4 Weinberger argued that libraries should open up their entire collections, all their metadata, and any technologies they’ve created, and allow anyone to build new products and services on top of that foundation. The platform model, he wrote, “focuses our attention away from the provisioning of resources to the foment” — the “messy, rich networks of people and ideas” — that “those resources engender.” Thus the ancient Library of Alexandria, part of a larger museum with botanical gardens, laboratories, living quarters and dining halls, was a platform not only for the translation and copying of myriad texts and the compilation of a magnificent collection, but also for the launch of works by Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and their peers."



"Partly because of their skill in reaching populations that others miss, libraries have recently reported record circulation and visitation, despite severe budget cuts, decreased hours and the threatened closure or sale of “underperforming” branches. 9 Meanwhile the Pew Research Center has released a series of studies about the materials and services Americans want their libraries to provide. Among the findings: 90 percent of respondents say the closure of their local public library would have an impact on their community, and 63 percent describe that impact as “major.”"



"Again, we need to look to the infrastructural ecology — the larger network of public services and knowledge institutions of which each library is a part. How might towns, cities and regions assess what their various public (and private) institutions are uniquely qualified and sufficiently resourced to do, and then deploy those resources most effectively? Should we regard the library as the territory of the civic mind and ask other social services to attend to the civic body? The assignment of social responsibility isn’t so black and white — nor are the boundaries between mind and body, cognition and affect — but libraries do need to collaborate with other institutions to determine how they leverage the resources of the infrastructural ecology to serve their publics, with each institution and organization contributing what it’s best equipped to contribute — and each operating with a clear sense of its mission and obligation."



"Libraries need to stay focused on their long-term cultural goals — which should hold true regardless of what Google decides to do tomorrow — and on their place within the larger infrastructural ecology. They also need to consider how their various infrastructural identities map onto each other, or don’t. Can an institution whose technical and physical infrastructure is governed by the pursuit of innovation also fulfill its obligations as a social infrastructure serving the disenfranchised? What ethics are embodied in the single-minded pursuit of “the latest” technologies, or the equation of learning with entrepreneurialism?

As Zadie Smith argued beautifully in the New York Review of Books, we risk losing the library’s role as a “different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.” Barbara Fister, a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, offered an equally eloquent plea for the library as a space of exception:
Libraries are not, or at least should not be, engines of productivity. If anything, they should slow people down and seduce them with the unexpected, the irrelevant, the odd and the unexplainable. Productivity is a destructive way to justify the individual’s value in a system that is naturally communal, not an individualistic or entrepreneurial zero-sum game to be won by the most industrious.


Libraries, she argued, “will always be at a disadvantage” to Google and Amazon because they value privacy; they refuse to exploit users’ private data to improve the search experience. Yet libraries’ failure to compete in efficiency is what affords them the opportunity to offer a “different kind of social reality.” I’d venture that there is room for entrepreneurial learning in the library, but there also has to be room for that alternate reality where knowledge needn’t have monetary value, where learning isn’t driven by a profit motive. We can accommodate both spaces for entrepreneurship and spaces of exception, provided the institution has a strong epistemic framing that encompasses both. This means that the library needs to know how to read itself as a social-technical-intellectual infrastructure."



"In libraries like BiblioTech — and the Digital Public Library of America — the collection itself is off-site. Do patrons wonder where, exactly, all those books and periodicals and cloud-based materials live? What’s under, or floating above, the “platform”? Do they think about the algorithms that lead them to particular library materials, and the conduits and protocols through which they access them? Do they consider what it means to supplant bookstacks with server stacks — whose metal racks we can’t kick, lights we can’t adjust, knobs we can’t fiddle with? Do they think about the librarians negotiating access licenses and adding metadata to “digital assets,” or the engineers maintaining the servers? With the increasing recession of these technical infrastructures — and the human labor that supports them — further off-site, behind the interface, deeper inside the black box, how can we understand the ways in which those structures structure our intellect and sociality?

We need to develop — both among library patrons and librarians themselves — new critical capacities to understand the distributed physical, technical and social architectures that scaffold our institutions of knowledge and program our values. And we must consider where those infrastructures intersect — where they should be, and perhaps aren’t, mutually reinforcing one another. When do our social obligations compromise our intellectual aspirations, or vice versa? And when do those social or intellectual aspirations for the library exceed — or fail to fully exploit — the capacities of our architectural and technological infrastructures? Ultimately, we need to ensure that we have a strong epistemological framework — a narrative that explains how the library promotes learning and stewards knowledge — so that everything hangs together, so there’s some institutional coherence. We need to sync the library’s intersecting infrastructures so that they work together to support our shared intellectual and ethical goals."
shannonmattern  2014  libraries  infrastructure  access  accessibility  services  government  civics  librarians  information  ethics  community  makerspaces  privacy  safety  learning  openstudioproject  education  lcproject  zadiesmith  barbarafister  seattle  nyc  pittsburgh  culture  google  neoliberalism  knowledge  diversity  inequality  coworking  brooklyn  nypl  washingtondc  architecture  design  hackerlabs  hackerspaces  annebalsamo  technology  chicago  ncsu  books  mexicocity  mexicodf  davidadjaye  social  socialinfrastructure  ala  intellectualfreedom  freedom  democracy  publicgood  public  lifelonglearning  saltlakecity  marellusturner  partnerships  toyoito  refuge  cities  ericklinenberg  economics  amazon  disparity  mediaproduction  readwrite  melvildewey  df 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Howard Zinn: The Problem is Civil Obedience
"We all grow up with the notion that the law is holy. They asked Daniel Berrigan's mother what she thought of her son's breaking the law. He burned draft records-one of the most violent acts of this century- to protest the war, for which he was sentenced to prison, as criminals should be. They asked his mother who is in her eighties, what she thought of her son's breaking the law. And she looked straight into the interviewer's face, and she said, "It's not God's law." Now we forget that. There is nothing sacred about the law. Think of who makes laws. The law is not made by God, it is made by Strom Thurmond. If you nave any notion about the sanctity and loveliness and reverence for the law, look at the legislators around the country who make the laws. Sit in on the sessions of the state legislatures. Sit in on Congress, for these are the people who make the laws which we are then supposed to revere.

All of this is done with such propriety as to fool us. This is the problem. In the old days, things were confused; you didn't know. Now you know. It is all down there in the books. Now we go through due process. Now the same things happen as happened before, except that we've gone through the right procedures. In Boston a policeman walked into a hospital ward and fired five times at a black man who had snapped a towel at his arm-and killed him. A hearing was held. The judge decided that the policeman was justified because if he didn't do it, he would lose the respect of his fellow officers. Well, that is what is known as due process-that is, the guy didn't get away with it. We went through the proper procedures, and everything was set up. The decorum, the propriety of the law fools us.

The nation then, was founded on disrespect for the law, and then came the Constitution and the notion of stability which Madison and Hamilton liked. But then we found in certain crucial times in our history that the legal framework did not suffice, and in order to end slavery we had to go outside the legal framework, as we had to do at the time of the American Revolution or the Civil War. The union had to go outside the legal framework in order to establish certain rights in the 1930s. And in this time, which may be more critical than the Revolution or the Civil War, the problems are so horrendous as to require us to go outside the legal framework in order to make a statement, to resist, to begin to establish the kind of institutions and relationships which a decent society should have. No, not just tearing things down; building things up. But even if you build things up that you are not supposed to build up-you try to build up a people's park, that's not tearing down a system; you are building something up, but you are doing it illegally-the militia comes in and drives you out. That is the form that civil disobedience is going to take more and more, people trying to build a new society in the midst of the old.

But what about voting and elections? Civil disobedience-we don't need that much of it, we are told, because we can go through the electoral system. And by now we should have learned, but maybe we haven't, for we grew up with the notion that the voting booth is a sacred place, almost like a confessional. You walk into the voting booth and you come out and they snap your picture and then put it in the papers with a beatific smile on your face. You've just voted; that is democracy. But if you even read what the political scientists say-although who can?-about the voting process, you find that the voting process is a sham. Totalitarian states love voting. You get people to the polls and they register their approval. I know there is a difference-they have one party and we have two parties. We have one more party than they have, you see.

What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing."
howardzinn  1970  civildisobedience  disobedience  civilobedience  law  authority  civics  unschooling  deschooling  independence  declarationofindependence  resistance  interdependence  wealth  politics  government  power  frankzappa  noamchomsky 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Frances Whitehead
"WHO WE ARE

Frances Whitehead is a civic practice artist bringing the methods, mindsets, and strategies of contemporary art practice to the process of shaping the future city. Connecting emerging art practices, the discourses around culturally informed sustainability, and new concepts of heritage and remediation, she develops strategies to deploy the knowledge of artists as change agents, asking, What do Artists Know?

Questions of participation, sustainability, and culture change animate her work as she considers the surrounding community, the landscape, and the interdependency of multiple ecologies in the post-industrial city. Whitehead’s cutting-edge work integrates art and sustainability, as she traverses disciplines to engage with engineers, scientists, landscape architects, urban designers, and city officials in order to hybridize art, design, science, and civic engagement, for the public good.

Whitehead has worked professionally as an artist since the mid 1980’s and has worked collaboratively as ARTetal Studio since 2001. She is Professor of Sculpture + Architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago."


HOW WE THINK

strategic
edge-dwelling
collaborative
cultural futures
experimental
complexity
ethics + aesthetics
place-based culture
change
participatory
urban ecologies
systemic
re-directive
post normal
art + science
integrative
adaptive"


WHAT WE DO

Whitehead works in disturbed urban and rural sites, to integrate art and cultural expertise into their transformation. A series of linked civic initiatives include the Embedded Artist Project with the City of Chicago, SLOW Cleanup, a culturally driven phytoremediation program for abandoned gas stations, climate-monitoring plant programs throughout the USA and Europe, and an urban agriculture plan with the city of Lima, Peru. Currently, Whitehead is Lead Artist for The 606, a rail infrastructure adaptation project in Chicago, and serves as Advisor to re-imagine the environmental art program at the Schuylkill Center, in Philadelphia."
franceswhitehead  via:anne  art  science  cities  urban  urbanism  remediation  heritage  participation  sustainability  culture  culturechange  culturecreation  community  landscape  interdependence  ecology  civics  artetalstudio  chicago  collaboration  strategy  urbanecology  urbanecologies  ethics  aesthetics  systems  systemsthinking  participatory  complexity  future  futures  edge-dwelling  phytoremediation  lima  perú  the606  engineering  urbandesign  interdisciplinary 
october 2014 by robertogreco
More Educator Luddites Please
"The educator luddites I have in mind are people who have always understood school to be more than test prep and who see themselves as far more than the agents of a standardized testing industry. I see them leading the way to create inquiry driven schools where students and teachers are not too busy to think. Schools where the technology serves the learning rather than drives the teaching and where the demand for original work is a collaborate effort to solve compelling problems to which no one present knows the answer. In such a school, the curriculum is not driven by the textbook, the flow of information is not unidirectional, learning is networked and students and teachers work together across the boundaries of age and experience as active seekers, users and creators of knowledge. In this rosy picture, individual schools form a kind of globally aware and networked cottage industry of creative learning.

In order to start that journey we need a collective effort to figure out how to negotiate the changing world and make sense of it. Here, in a small collection of nutshells, are some observations about the context for the work:

1. The web is changing (us). For the most part we are oblivious to the bigger picture as we take each new gadget, or shift, or industry upheaval for granted. For the cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch, the machine is us and the machine is using us. In his prescient and chilling short story written in 1906 “The Machine Stops”, E. M, Forster imagined a world dependent on an all-powerful, all-knowing machine where humans became shrunken, feeble underground creatures alienated from nature and the natural landscape. In Forster’s story, the machine falters and fails. In our world, it does not look as if the machine is going to stop anytime soon. And that, according to Professor Wesch, means we are going to need to rethink a few things, including: copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetoric, governance, privacy, commerce, love, family and ourselves.

2. In the networked world of ubiquitous and mobile access, boundaries are fluid and hierarchies broken. The ownership of knowledge is changed and the flow multidirectional. Students come to school wired and ready to join the knowledge stream. Learning needs to be organized around these networks and not contained in the traditional one way flow of teacher to student.

3. We have to think off the world of the web and interactive technology as a new ecosystem – one in which any person, in any place, at any time can participate, contribute, communicate, produce, share, curate and organize. It’s an ecosystem that has the potential to make prosumers of us all. That is, producers and not just consumers of information and media content. Anyone with a connection can generate content and the tools of social media mean it can be Stumbled, tagged in Delicious, uploaded to YouTube, sampled in Moviemaker, voted on at Digg, pushed in an RSS feed, shared on Facebook and Tweeted to the world. And then someone can create an interactive commentary, put it to music and turn it upside down, again. This interactivity blurs boundaries. As the New Yorker cartoon put it: “On the net, no one knows you are a dog”. Expertise and value may be perceived without the limiting filters of age, status, nationality or appearance.

4. We have both an explosion of creativity and an incessant need for problem solving and ethical thinking. Information, misinformation and disinformation are fast moving and in fluid abundance. In Teaching as a Subversive Activity Postman and Weingarten wrote of the need to develop “crap detectors” to filter the disinformation, propaganda and hype. To some www means a world wild web of mayhem, mischief and malice. But with a sense of purpose, and the skills of filtering and information navigation, it also holds great promise and potential.

5. Reading and writing are becoming less of a solitary and silent activity characteristic of the print era and more of a social activity. E-reading enables readers to interact with each other as well as the text and digital text is always on the move.

6. We are headed toward ubiquitous access and ever more speed. As quotidian objects such as umbrellas and shopping carts become digitized we are being linked with products just as we are linked with each other. Building community and creating relationships are what people, and social media, do well.

This then is the sea in which schools can swim, or – if they allow themselves to become irrelevant – sink. Professor Wesch had his list and here is my list of some of the things that schools may need to begin to rethink:

Classroom and school design; the school day and the schedule; segregation of learners by age and rather than by interest, passion and commitment; the segregation of knowledge into subjects; grading and assessment; social relationships, adult learning, the role of teacher, peer-to-peer learning and the isolation of the learner; textbooks, curriculum development and the sources of information; the nature of literacy; the nature of learning, creativity and the place of technology; citizenship and community; teamwork, collaboration, plagiarism and cheating; digital footprints, transparency and privacy; partnership with parents other adult learners; learning in the world and learning in school; what counts and what gets counted and how and by whom; and the dress code. (I added the last item because sometimes it’s useful to have a topic that gets everyone thoroughly engaged and busily distracted from important work.)

Above all it means a definition of education as going beyond the acquisition of knowledge. Critical thinking and digital literacy are essential but they don’t go far enough. We need to educate children for active and ethical participation. They need to be contributors and creators of knowledge and that means engaging in solving real problems from the very start.

Change is always hard. Socrates feared the effects of literacy on memory. He argued against it as harmful to young minds, short circuiting the arduous intellectual work of examining life. The scholar Elizabeth Eisenstein, who has written extensively on the effect on the world of the Gutenberg and the print revolution, has said it may be too soon to assess the full impact of that centuries old shift. If it’s too soon to gauge the effect of printing then we can only dimly imagine the effects of social media and the digital age.

Media has transformed our society before, but never at this dizzying rate. The unforeseen and unintended consequences of this revolution that sweeps all before it loom for many as dark clouds threatening the very roots of civilization. And here we are – smack in the epicenter. Unless we want to take ourselves right off the grid we had better start trying to make sense of it.

Educator luddites will be those who can learn with others, in and out of school, against the grain of narrowing definitions and toward what it means to be an educated citizen in a networked world.
I think it is our collective task to engage in the work of social imagination and envision our schools as we want, and need, them to be.

For schools it means some hard work and we are going to need all the help we can get."

[See also: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/toward-luddite-pedagogy/
via: https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/504761003876179968 ]

[Previously bookmarked here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:726a0951079b ]
josieholford  2010  technology  luddism  michaelwesch  luddites  education  schools  schooling  change  media  internet  web  online  progressive  knowledge  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  civilization  slow  sloweducation  slowpedagogy  criticalthinking  digitalliteracy  curriculum  howweteach  teaching  literacy  literacies  multiliteracies  cheating  plagiarism  creativity  purpose  values  grading  assessment  grades  isaacludlam  maxinegreene  socialimagination  civics  citizenship  writing  reading  networkedlearning  community  relationships  tcsnmy  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  crapdetection  social  socialmedia 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Gratitude and Its Dangers in Social Technologies
"How do our designs change when we start emphasizing people and community and not just the things they do for us? Over the next year of my research, I'm exploring acknowledgment and gratitude, basic parts of online relationships that designers often set aside to focus on the tasks people do online.

In May of last year, Wikipedia added a "thanks" feature to its history page, enabling readers to thank contributors for helpful edits on a topic:

[image]

The Wikipedia thanks button signals a profound change that's been in the making for years: After designing elaborate social practices and mechanisms to delete spam and maintain high quality content, Wikipedia noticed that they, like other wikis, were becoming oligarchic (pdf) and that their defense systems were turning people away. Realizing, this Wikipedia has been changing how they work, adding systems like "thanks" to welcome participation and encourage belonging in their community.

Thanks is just one small example of community-building at Wikimedia, who know that you can't create a welcoming culture simply by adding a "thanks" button. Some forms of appreciation can even foster very unhealthy relationships. In this post, I consider the role of gratitude in communities. I also describe social technologies designed for gratitude. This post is part of my ongoing research on designing acknowledgment for the web, acknowledging people's contributions in collaborations and creating media to support community and learning.

Why does Gratitude Matter?

People who invest time in others and support their communities describe their lives through a lens of gratitude. Dan McAdams at Northwestern University studies "generativity," the prosocial tendency of some people to see themselves as a person who supports their community: donating money, making something, fixing something, caring for the environment, writing a letter to the editor, donating blood, or mentoring someone. After asking them to take a survey, McAdams asks them to tell the story of their lives. Highly generative people often describe their lives through a lens of gratitude. People who give back to their community or pay it forward often think of things in exactly those terms: talking about the people, institutions, or religious figures who gave them advantages and helped them turn difficult times into positive experiences (read one of McAdams's studies in this pdf).

Gratitude that becomes part of our life story builds up over time. It's the kind of general gratitude we might direct toward a deity, an institution, or a supportive community. McAdams argues that this gratitude is an important part of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are: the person who loses his job and reimagines this tragedy positively as more time for family. A thankful perspective has also been linked to higher well being, mental health, and post-traumatic resilience (Wood, Froh, Geraghty, 2010 PDF)

Can we cultivate gratitude? Aside from my personal religious practice, I'm most often reminded to be grateful by Facebook posts from Liz Lawley, a professor at RIT who participates in the #365grateful movement. Every day in 2014, Liz has posted a photo of something she's grateful for. It's part of a larger participatory movement started by Hailey Bartholomew in 2011 to foster gratitude on social media:

[video: "365grateful.com" https://vimeo.com/22100389 ]



The Economy of Thanks

… signals an understanding …

Expressions of gratitude can dramatically increase the recipient's pro-social behaviour…

Expressions of gratitude are a significant factor in successful long-term, collaborative relationships.…

…the link between reciprocity and thanks…

…commercial employee recognition technology for managers…

… expressions of thanks are signals of exchange within a relationship…



The Dark Side of Thanks

Gratitude or its absence can influence relationships in harmful ways by encouraging paternalism, supporting favoritism, or papering over structural injustices. Since the focus of my thesis is cooperation across diversity, I'm paying close attention to these dark patterns:

Presumption of thanks misguides us into paternalism…

… gratitude can support favoritism. …

Gratitude sometimes offers a moral facade to injustice.…



Mechanisms of Gratitude and Acknowledgment

In design, gratitude and thanks are often painted over systems for reputation, reward, and exchange. The Kudos system offers a perfect example of these overlaps, showing how a simple "thank you" can become freighted with implications for someone's job security, promotion, and financial future. As I study further, here are my working definitions for acts in the economy of gratitude:

Appreciation: when you praise someone for something they have done, even if their work wasn't directed personally to you. This could be a "like" on Facebook, the "thanks" button on Wikipedia, or the private "thanks" message on the content platform hi.co

[image]

Thanks: when you thank another person for something they have done for you personally. This is the core interaction on the Kudos system, as well as the system I'm studying with Emma and Andrés.

Acknowledgment: when you make a person visible for things they've done. This is closely connected to Attribution, when you acknowledge a person's role in something they helped create. I've already written about acknowledgment and designed new interfaces for displaying acknowledgment and attribution. I see acknowledgment as something focused on relationships and community, while attribution is more focused on a person's moral rights and legal relationships with the things they create, as they are discussed and shared.

Credit: when you attribute someone with the possibility or expectation of reward. Most research on acknowledgment focuses on credit, either its role in shaping careers or its implications in copyright law.

Reward: when you give a person something for what they have done. For example, the Wikipedia Barnstars program offers rewards of social status for especially notable contributions to Wikipedia. Peer bonus and micro-bonus systems such as Bonus.ly add financial rewards to expressions of thanks, inviting people to add even more bonuses toward the most popular recipients.

[video: "Bonus.ly: Peer-to-peer employee recognition made easy" https://vimeo.com/87399314 ]

Review: when you describe a person, hoping to influence other people's decisions about that person. Reviews on "reputation economy" sites like Couchsurfing are often expressed in the language of thanks, even though they have two audiences: the person reviewed as well as others who might interact with the subject of your review. In 2011, I blogged about research by Lada Adamic on reviews in the Couchsurfing community.

Designing for Gratitude, Thanks, and Acknowledgment

Gratitude is a basic part of any strong community. Thanks are the visible signal of a rich economy of favors and obligations, a building block in relationship formation and maintenance. Gratitude is common in the life stories of people who give back to their community, and it's the hallmark of the most successful long-term collaborative relationships. Despite the importance of gratitude, processes for collaboration and crowdsourcing much more frequently focus on rewards, reviews, and other short-term incentives for participation. Gratitude does have a dark side when it overrules consent, fosters favoritism, and even hides systemic injustices.

If we're going to design for community (civic technologies, I'm looking at you), we need to focus on relationships, not just the faceless outputs we want from "human computation." Across the academic year, I'll be posting more about the role of acknowledgment in cooperation, civic life, learning, and creativity, accompanied by more in-depth data analysis. I'll also write more about Wikipedia's initiatives for online collaboration that aim for greater inclusivivity."

[Cached version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:TymwLDcrpYYJ:civic.mit.edu/blog/natematias/gratitude-and-its-dangers-in-social-technologies+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us ]
natematias  gratitude  socialmedia  wikipedia  learning  community  communities  communitymanagement  wikimedia  2014  thanks  appreciation  hi.co  nathanmatias  visualization  journalism  kudos  lizlawley  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  civics  rewards  attribution  paternalism  peerbonus  acknowledgement  prosocial  cooperation  creativity  favoritism  injustice  presumption  facebook  365grateful  haileybartholomew  twitter  seneca  relationships  communication  generativity 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Equality Vs. Cruelty
"Yesterday, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a "major shift" in how the federal government evaluates the effectiveness of special education programs. And by that he means, subjecting special needs students to the same sort of high stakes "tough love" rigor that is already reducing young children across the country to tears and causing them to hate school. He said, "We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to robust curriculum, they excel." He is not just wrong, he is lying. He does not know this. No one knows this. There is no data, research, or other reliable evidence to back him up. As with the rest of the corporate education "reform" agenda, this assertion is pure guesswork based upon an ideology that asserts that unleashing "powerful market forces" of competition, standardization, and punishment and reward, will magically make everything better.

Duncan is using the logic of the spanker: If I hit the kid hard enough and often enough, he'll come to see the light. Never mind that there is no science behind this "logic," indeed, most researchers point to significant negative consequences from spanking, just as they point to significant negative consequences from the drill-and-kill of high stakes testing, rote learning, teachers separated from unemployment by one bad batch of blueberries, and schools closing, only to be replaced by unproven, often shoddy, corporate charter schools that have no problem toeing the line Duncan, Bill Gates and the rest of these bullies have drawn in the sand.

The sick part is that the guys behind this purport to be all about data. They are forever throwing out assertions that start, like Duncan's did, with the words "We know . . . ," but they simply do not know. They conflate knowing with believing. As a teacher, as a person who wants what's best for young children, I want to really know. I have my beliefs and ideas and ideologies like everyone else, but when it comes right down to it, what I do in the classroom is ultimately based upon what science tells us is best for children intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Yet here are these guys with deep pockets and positions of great power who are worshipers at the alter of "free markets" (as if free markets have ever existed) hell bent on subjecting our children to the cruelty of competition, standardization, and punishment and reward, you know, for their own good, even if it robs them of their childhood and kills their joy of learning.

I've been struggling with this for some time. How can we get through to these guys? I started with the hope that they would respond to reason.

For instance, much of the rationale for this corporate "reform" push comes from the US's middling scores on the international PISA tests and the resulting fear that "the Chinese are beating us." Of course, Finland is beating us too, regularly joining the Chinese at the top of the charts. So why is it that these guys are seeking to emulate the Chinese model of romanticized suffering instead of the much more humane and effective methods of the Finns? They do this even as the communist dictatorship of China is backing away from its drill-and-kill methods in favor of "schools that follow sound education principles" and that "respect . . . students' physical and psychological development." Why are they ignoring the lessons of the democratic nation of Finland, a nation with a civic culture much more similar to the US, in favor of the admittedly failed methods of the dictatorial Chinese?

But reason is ineffective when it comes to ideologues.

This has been a frustrating thing for me these past several years as I've become increasingly involved in the pushback against those who would turn our schools into institutions of vocational training at the expense of everything else. The primary focus of the Finn's educational system is on equality, community, and citizenship, and that, after all, is the primary function of education in a democracy. The rest of their education success comes from that. And that is the sort of schools for which I am fighting.

Let corporations train their own damn workers. Our schools have more important work to do. And that, at bottom, is why I think these corporate "reformers" are so focused on creating Dickensian schools: they hope it results in the sorts of workers they are seeking to fill their cubicles. Fine. I'm an adult. I can chose to not take part, but forcing it on our children, even our children with special needs, that's pure cruelty, which sadly, seems to be the new American way.

I will be on the doorstep of the Gates Foundation this evening fighting for a different America, one based upon the democratic ideals of equality rather than the corporate ideology of cruelty."
tomhobson  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  rttt  education  edreform  schools  corporatism  billgates  pisa  us  policy  politics  training  democracy  criticalthinking  equality  community  civics  2014 
june 2014 by robertogreco
To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society | MindShift
"Why haven’t education reform efforts amounted to much? Because they start with the wrong problem, says John Abbott, director of the 21st Century Learning Initiative.

Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions? The answer, he says, will point to the changes needed in all three pillars of education — schools, families, and communities.

This is one of Abbott’s primary takeaways from a career spanning more than two decades of teaching in England, followed by three decades at the helm of an international nonprofit (begun in the U.S. but now headquartered in England), whose mission is to promote fresh thinking based on the existing body of research about how children learn. Its findings have been synthesized into policy briefings, reports, and a book, “Overschooled but Undereducated: How the crisis in education is jeopardizing our adolescents.” It has also just published a distillation of its work, called “Battling for the Soul of Education.”

As Abbott sees it, the need for reflection has never been greater. Spurred by technological advances, “civilization is on the cusp of a metamorphosis,” he says, that will lead either to societal collapse and chaos, or to a resurgence of liberty, community, and ethics. Either way, schools are stuck in the past: The emphasis has been on feeding children static information and rewarding them for doing only what they’re told, instead of helping them develop the transferable, higher-order skills they need to become life-long learners and thrive in an uncertain future.

This approach — a product of the Industrial Age, which relied on compliant factory workers and mass consumption — promotes weakness rather than strength. It has become even more regimented (and thus more disempowering) in recent years due to a lack of trust. Adults who feel hard-pressed to predict or control their own destinies, and who feel confused about the “big issues of life,” Abbott notes, are less willing to give children the time and space they need to shape their own futures.

Unfortunately, he adds, this approach to education goes against the grain of how young people learn. Research has confirmed what most parents of young children can already see for themselves — that children are born to learn, rather than to be taught, as Abbott puts it. Driven by an inborn desire to make sense of the world and find purpose in life, they naturally observe, deconstruct, piece together and create their own knowledge. They learn best when this intrinsic motivation is harnessed in what he calls “highly challenging but low-threat environments.”"
education  society  johnabbott  lubavangelova  2014  interdependence  community  consumerism  capitalism  purpose  unschooling  deschooling  reflection  civilization  gamechanging  technology  ethics  liberty  freedom  criticalthinking  civics  citizens  citizenship  learning  values  schooling  schools  work  labor  authority 
june 2014 by robertogreco
This Tool Boosts Your Privacy by Opening Your Wi-Fi to Strangers | Enterprise | WIRED
"Network owners may ask what incentive beyond altruism might motivate them to share limited Wi-Fi resources with strangers. The Open Wireless Router creators argue their software will be more convenient and secure than the buggy default firmware in typical Netgear and Linksys devices. Unlike those rarely-updated devices, the OpenWireless.org router firmware will be security-audited and allow users to check for updates on the devices’ smartphone-friendly web interface and quickly download updates. “We want to get a much better router in peoples’ hands that will improve their overall experience and security,” says Krishnan.

Krishnan argues that users also will benefit, both personally and on a societal level, from the barrier to surveillance that comes from sharing their network with strangers. “This is not just a neighborly good thing to do,” he says. “If you allow this kind of guest usage, it will make your traffic part of the mix and not associated with you. That gives you some protection.”

But Kamdar points instead to security guru Bruce Schneier’s famous argument that despite the security risks, leaving your Wi-Fi open is an act of civic hospitality. “To me, it’s basic politeness,” Schneier wrote in 2008. “Providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea.”

Given the kind of widespread network surveillance that’s been revealed in the years since Schneier wrote that line, no one would be considered rude for keeping their network locked down. With the right tools and protections, though, sharing Wi-Fi might become as common as any other baseline social kindness. “For some users,” Kamdar says, “A smile from a friend or neighbor is incentive enough.”"
wifi  security  surveillance  privacy  2014  eff  bruceschneier  civics 
june 2014 by robertogreco
We 'Choose' for Poor Children Every Day - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"You challenge me: "What gives you confidence that we get to choose?" You insist that "I don't pretend for a second that I get to choose. At least not for other people's children."

But in fact you/we are choosing, every day. In acts small and big, from deciding small classes don't matter, to deciding to gentrify Manhattan. The people of Harlem didn't have a choice. It's some other "we" who are moving other people and their children to locations not specified. What/who is it that didn't "adapt"? It wasn't the working people of Detroit or New Orleans or Manhattan who failed to "adapt"—it was the industries they counted on, the expertise of those well-educated people who did have the power to make some choices and failed to do so.

It was my dear old mother who warned me about people who cry "crisis" too often. I should beware of them, she said. Tell me what years there hasn't been a "crisis" that was blamed on our public schools? (Read Richard Rothstein's The Way Things Were—it's truly a fun read.) Yes, in some ways, I'm more "conservative" than you: I know who gets hurt first when we "disrupt" regardless ....

Yes, there is a lot of money spent on education, and any good entrepreneur seeks his or her opportunities where the money is. And then looks for ways to make more. That's not a plot or a conspiracy. Just good straight thinking. But not all entrepreneurs are equal when it comes to pushing for their self-interest.

So we agree on tests? If we do, then it wasn't test scores that revealed the rot in Detroit's schools for the poor. If you walked into them, without any data, you'd know immediately that you wouldn't CHOOSE to send your children there. Although for many parents it was a "home" of a sort, better than having none.

You wouldn't CHOOSE to live where these children do either. So whites moved out—by choice—and left Detroit what it is today. Whether the kinds of solutions that those who remained are exploring are utopian or not, I'm on their side. They're trying to reconstruct a city built on a different set of assumptions—that a community can be rebuilt out of the ashes. I wish them all the best, and offer any help I can.

It's too easy, from perches of comfort and adaptability, to say that factories come and go, as do oceans and rivers and mountains, and species. But the triumph of the human species, up to now, rests on its use of its brains. We're not exempt from some "laws" of nature. Adaptation isn't accomplished overnight. If we don't use our brains better (and more empathetically) we, too, will become extinct—although I can't adapt to that idea yet!

You and I—or some other somebodies—are deciding the future of "other people's children" unless we provide ways for "them" to have a voice, a vote, and the resources to decide their own future. We need to restore a better balance between local communal life (with its power to effect some immediate changes like we did at the small self-governing schools I love) and distant, "objective" moneyed power. It's our democracy that rests on our rebuilding strength at the bottom. If we don't, we induce a passivity that surely cannot be in the self-interest of the least powerful, but might (just might) be in the self-interest of others. And then we blame them for being passive?

The experiment in democracy may or may not survive this round, but I'm not giving up on it. "Self-governance"—of, for, and by the people, Robert, is what's at stake. Do we agree that it's an essential aspiration, another way of describing what we mean by freedom within community, or communities of free citizens? If so, what would it look like in schools given, as you remind me, the realities we must all "accept"—for the moment. Until we create new realities."
deborahmeier  2014  edreform  reform  education  democracy  choice  passivity  robertpondiscio  entrepreneurship  gentrification  adaptability  opportunity  community  schools  publischools  policy  self-governance  citizenship  civics  acceptance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
In 'The Spirit of Liberty' - Bridging Differences - Education Week
[in response to: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2013/12/dear_deborah_i_trust_you.html ]

"It's probably easier to teach about liberty than democracy. The former is perhaps "natural" to the human species. Even little tots object when their liberty is infringed upon. It is within the context of democracy—or so people like me believe—that one's liberty is best protected, but also where one's liberty is best restricted. Only kings of yore believed they had unrestricted freedom. But where to draw the line? That's where democracy comes in.

I'm not for defining democracy once and for all, or liberty. These are ideas that have evolved and are still evolving. The "struggle" to define them is ongoing. Schooling ideally prepares us to join in that struggle. It's what politics is about—drawing the line. Like justice, which is represented by a scale that always needs some readjusting.

That's where we get back to my claim that democracy is not "natural" or intuitive. It's a means, not an end. No two nations, states, or organizations that may rightly call themselves democratic have the same bylaws, etc.

Democracy hopefully is precisely what protects other rights, such as fairness, liberty, equality, privacy, even "happiness." And the "common good." Different contexts and histories have led to different ways of organizing the power of the people, including deciding who "the people" are. The idea that the right to vote should be universal is new—and still shaky. In 1789, most of those living within our borders could not vote: women, slaves, Native Americans, and, in most states, men without property.

We agree: Most of the dialogue about power is conducted in a language unfamiliar to many citizens. Meanwhile, our fellow citizens—those who seem to lack the proper language for understanding "us"—may well be speaking with equal depth and understanding but in a form that "we" do not understand. Maybe those with more power have an obligation to better understand their fellow citizens, not just vice-versa. Expanding the world that "belongs to us all" is something schools could do if ... rich and poor, black and white attended "common schools" devoted to such a task.

Do we really have to "teach" a common core to promote thinking—or do we mean "thinking like us"? I have friends from abroad who think quite well, but share a different set of "common" and "uncommon" knowledge. I find our discourses even more interesting for that fact.

I never found that my students, even at 5, were less interesting because their "home language," dialect, or vocabulary were different than mine. In fact, it was these differences that drew me into becoming a teacher. Sometimes because of their age, but also because of their own situations and histories, they aroused my curiosity and added to my knowledge. It is often a handicap to good thinking when we share too much "common sense" knowledge and vocabulary, or pretend to. "You know what I mean."

Whether we're creating essay, short-answer, or multiple-choice tests, we have a "bias." There's no way not to. As I recognized in my college courses, it was easier to get an A on an essay question where I agreed with my professors than when I didn't. We naturally think that those who say what we believe have more sense than those who don't. Ditto for multiple-choice tests.

The solution? I'd like to use those 12-plus years of school to come closer to "getting it"—who we are. There's a huge body of knowledge that such a course of study could uncover, and a lot that would remain uncovered. My hope? That the "test prepping" prepared our students to demonstrate strong intellectual habits in a range of academic and nonacademic domains, on topics of their choice—subject to the judgment of a committee of faculty, family, and external public experts. Over and over. Until it truly becomes habitual. Like good driving.

I'd hope that all publicly funded schools have the freedom to develop their own assessment tools (or even choose a pre-existing standardized one). But I hope that they also would be required to articulate the connection between the idea of democracy (and liberty) and whatever curriculum and assessment system they have chosen.

I'd also ask the schools to "show me" the connection between their purposes and the structure of the classroom and school as a whole. What do kids learn about democracy and liberty from the school's adult world? Who are the school's citizens? What are their liberties? Do parents or those whose taxes the schools rest upon have citizenship rights? Whose expertise trumps whose? And where do children of different ages fit into this web of cross-cutting citizenships?

Given the fragile state of our democracy (about which we agree), we must sometimes sacrifice some other more strictly private purposes (being more successful than others, having more money, or—god forbid—even pursuing a private hobby of pleasure only to a few). Public schools funded and controlled by the priorities of their citizens will each draw the lines differently. But without considerable locally based control we will flit from one all-size-fits-all fad to another.

Local communities, operating within the law, may even figure out forms of choice that enable people to make some decisions collectively and others more selectively, while agreeing not to substantially injure the available choices of others. They will swing back and forth between the party of order and the party of flexibility. A diversity of knowledge claims is essential for democracy and liberty, as well as for the arts, sciences, technology, etc. When one "best practice" rules, it undermines liberty, democracy, and progress, in general. We need collaborators and resisters, collegiality and ornery individualists.

I do not want to specify for others which of all the wars Americans have fought they most need to understand. Reality tells me that there is NO WAY they seriously understand even one if obliged to cover all. But ... let others try. Ditto for the sciences. And for math. Mastery of basic probability and statistics, however, would surely serve democracy better than calculus.

Central Park East, Central Park East Secondary School, and Mission Hill— schools where I've had a direct influence—each approached curriculum differently, although all three built their studies around "habits of mind." I've learned from each, and I am very aware that each made some painful trade-offs. Still, talking with graduates of each reassures me that what right-wing blogger Danette Clark calls "the Marxist-Communist political, amoral, and social ideology behind Theodore Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools" flourished in all of them.

There are some things effectively mandated centrally, but not as many as even "my team" acknowledges. Democracy and liberty both are safer when we all see ourselves as more or less in the same boat together, where my liberty and yours rise or fall together. We're a long way from achieving that spirit of liberty in our schools. "
education  deborahmeier  democracy  liberty  testing  standards  standardization  2013  tedsizer  commoncore  power  curriculum  publicschools  teaching  learning  testprep  assessment  local  bias  knowledge  robertpondiscio  citizenship  civics  missionhillschool  coalitionofessentialschools 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Trouble With White Hats – The New Inquiry
"While seeming to address problems of political disengagement, civic hacking champions provisional citizenship and precarious work conditions"



"The Silicon Valley model of public good enacted by hackathons provides technical solutions to social problems. This cultivates a mode of entrepreneurial citizenship that is increasingly welcomed by governments in times of austerity. Even so, the consequences of the hackathon’s terms of engagement — which recognize problems only insofar as technology can operationalize and solve them — mean that the work practices of the engineer become the preferred technique for civics. The existing social world is taken as given, requiring only tweaks and tinkering around the edges. By narrowing focus to problems that can be solved, questions of power and equity are avoided. There is no time to consider the structural or political causes that make some problems priorities over others. Instead, hackathons ransack the social for issues that can be fixed under accelerated conditions.

In this way, hackathons’ speculative citizens also reap speculative rewards. They remain firmly in the realm of tactics rather than strategies. In hackathons, we simulate genres of accomplishment but we don’t ever progress to a position of owning infrastructure, influencing the economy, or changing laws that distribute resources. As the app economy trades off the free labor of aspiring citizens and workers, we might wonder what is “good” about this kind of hacking, which offers struggling institutions a means to harvest work given away for free.

If the white-collar worker’s weapon is the laptop, as in Eddy’s Run, the battle is for a system of governance that will support a middle class that is feeling everywhere under threat. But hackathons merely normalize failure and the impossibility of hacking for meaningful structural change, just as Snowden’s “hack” exposed a government that seems irreparably corrupt and broken. To hack for good is to attempt to patch an institution that persists, despite its many failures."
hackdays  civics  labor  hackathons  2013  melissagregg  carldisalvo  politics  government  technology 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Program to teach minority youths how to navigate Pittsburgh city government - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Understanding how a city works is hard enough if you know the language of power.

Karen Abrams has spent the better part of two years trying to spread that know-how to adult groups in Pittsburgh's minority neighborhoods. She began to realize that to really make a difference, youth needed to learn the language, too.

"We have no interaction with 12- to 18-year-olds. But a lot of what we do will have an impact on them in five and 10 years," said Ms. Abrams, the Urban Redevelopment Authority's diversity and community affairs manager. "I thought, 'How do we build a generation of urbanists in communities of color?' We need to include them in the Pittsburgh renaissance."

Ms. Abrams came up with a brainchild: Urban Matters, based on a model at the Center for Urban Pedagogy, a nonprofit in New York City's Brooklyn borough. The Heinz Endowments has provided $50,000 toward its launch.

After several months of planning, the program will recruit high school students next summer to take part in extracurricular investigations of city systems and processes. The students will receive a stipend, and their work will result in audio-visual materials that could be disseminated more widely, possibly for inclusion in school curricula."
centerforurbanpedagogy  pittsburgh  cities  government  civics  education  power  politics  bureaucracy  2013  openstudioproject  projectideas  curriculum 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Schools We Need | Erik Reece | Orion Magazine
"A few years ago, on the first day of my Freshman Comp class, an argument broke out over whether or not “Redskins” was a racist name for a professional football team. I hadn’t expected or planned this debate, but I let it rage for half the class, trying to direct and redirect the lines of argument as best I could. It seemed like productive chaos, and afterward, the class did not emerge from the debate divided, but rather heartened, it seemed, that everyone had been given a chance to voice diverse opinions. Something important happened that day: the students created a democratic space in which to debate and consider ideas. It wasn’t because of anything I did, but simply because I didn’t get in the way of the students’ own grappling over questions of perspective, personal background, and the ability of words to both empower and harm."



"When deregulated corporations destroy entire ecosystems and the Supreme Court grants those same corporations more “rights” to express themselves as “persons” (very rich persons), the need for a more Jeffersonian form of schooling—one that emphasizes serious critical inquiry in the service of citizenship—is imperative to the future of democracy. We need schools, as novelist Mark Slouka recently wrote, that produce “men and women capable of furthering what’s best about us and forestalling what’s worst.”

THE GOOD NEWS is we can begin revitalizing both education and democracy by implementing a curriculum that incubates what I will call the “citizen-self.” As teachers, I believe our purpose should be twofold: 1) to provide the opportunity for individual self-invention among students, and 2) to create a space where that individual takes on the role and the responsibility of the social citizen. The pedagogy I have in mind combines the Romantic idea of the bildung, the cultivation of one’s own intellectual and psychological nature, with the Pragmatist view that such individuality must be vigorously protected by acts of citizenship. That is to say, it encourages Deborah Meier’s “habit of mind” toward the goal of helping each student determine what she or he truly thinks and feels about an issue or an idea, and it encourages what psychologist and philosopher William James called a “habit of action,” a way of translating such thinking into citizenship. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that the first part cultivates the inner self, while the second shapes the outer self. But these two selves cannot be separated; each depends upon and strengthens the other.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the fundamental American impulse of this citizen-self should be anti-industrial, anti-corporation, and should cultivate a generalist approach to education and work. Jefferson also believed that both politics and education best succeed at the local level. This has proven true time and again in my own experience."



"Taking pride in one’s place can also lead to a desire to take responsibility for that place, which is, after all, the crux of citizenship. Teachers can foster this impulse by focusing assignments on local issues, allowing chemistry, biology, English, and civics classes to be driven by a problem-solving impulse. Such learning is inevitably interdisciplinary because real problems, and real learning, rarely break down along clear disciplinary lines. If a strip mine is polluting a local source of drinking water, that is clearly a biological and chemical problem, but it is also an ethical problem grounded in lessons of history. To solve it, many fields of knowledge must be brought to bear. And to articulate the solution will require some skilled rhetoric indeed. Working to solve that problem becomes at once an experiment in stewardship (the opposite of vandalism) and citizenship (participatory democracy).

It also goes some distance toward breaking down the artificial, but very real, wall between school and life, between learning and doing. The rejection of this false dichotomy was one of the primary goals of the American Pragmatist educators like John Dewey and Jane Addams. Of the turn-of-the-century settlement school movement, Addams wrote that it “stands for application as opposed to research, for emotion as opposed to abstraction, for universal interest as opposed to specialization.” Specialization has, too often, been the enemy of educating the citizen-self. It encourages careerism as the only goal of education, and its narrowness can result in an abdication of responsibility concerning problems that lie outside of one’s specialty. These narrowly focused specialists can cause problems. Financial specialists caused the economic collapse, genetic specialists have created crops that require far more pesticide application, and we don’t yet know the full havoc caused by deep-water drilling specialists. But as we saw with BP’s cagey initial reaction to the Gulf disaster, as well as Monsanto’s outrageous contempt for farmers and seed-savers, specialization also seems to create a troubling loss of empathy.

Empathy, what Jane Addams called emotion, has largely disappeared from American public life. Our politics and punditry are too divisive, the gap between rich and poor too wide, the messages from the media too preoccupied with what William James called “the bitch-goddess SUCCESS.” We think of public life as a playing field of winners and losers, when we should be thinking about it, to borrow from Dewey, as a single organism made up of thousands of single but interconnected cells—a whole that needs all of its parts, working cooperatively. In other words, we should be thinking about how our educational institutions can be geared less toward competitiveness and more toward turning out graduates who feel a responsibility toward their places and their peers.

Here is the crux of the matter: As we enter an era of dwindling resources and potential mass migration due to climate change, we are going to need much more empathy—perhaps more than ever before—if we hope to retain our humanity. Empathy must be the measure of our students’, and our own, emotional and ethical maturity."



"How do we recover, how do we reinvent, the country that Jefferson and Franklin envisioned? We must become better citizens, and that transformation must begin—and really can only begin—in better public schools.

PUTTING MY STUDENTS in situations where they might learn and practice the art of real democracy has become a large part of my own teaching, and it is with these goals in mind that I often take them to a place in eastern Kentucky called Robinson Forest. It is a brilliant remnant of the mixed mesophytic ecosystem, and it is home to the cleanest streams in the state. Yet only a short walk away from our base camp you can watch those streams die, literally turn lifeless, because of the mountaintop removal strip mining that is happening all around Robinson Forest.

A few years ago, I had one student (I’ll call him Brian) who had only signed up for one of my classes because it fit his schedule. He was, in his own words, “a right-wing nut job,” and he disagreed with virtually everything I said in class. But he was funny and respectful and I liked having him around. On our class trip to Robinson Forest, we all hiked up out of the forest to a fairly typical mountaintop removal site. The hard-packed dirt and rock was completely barren, save for a few non-native, scrubby grasses. To call this post-mined land a “moonscape,” as many do, is an insult to the moon.

Brian was quiet as we walked, and then he asked, “When are they going to reclaim this land?”

“It has been reclaimed,” I said. “They sprayed hydro-seed, so now this qualifies as wildlife habitat.”

“This is it?”

“This is all the law requires.”

Brian went quiet again, until finally he said, “This is awful.”

Then he asked, “What do you think would happen if every University of Kentucky student came to see this?”

I pulled the old teacher trick and turned the question back on him: “What do you think would happen?”

Brian paused, and then said, “I think mountaintop removal would end.”"
teaching  education  civics  criticalthinking  writing  howweteach  howwelearn  us  environment  erikreece  citizenship  tcsnmy  democracy  specialization  generalists  empathy  emotion  history  deborahmeier  thomasjeffereson  benjaminfranklin  publicschools  johntaylorgatto  2011  learning  highschool  engagement 
october 2013 by robertogreco
NSA-Proof Your Email! Consider your Man Card Re-Issued. Never be Afraid Again. — Weird Future — Medium
"The watchword is self-reliance. They’re coming to take what’s yours, so you’d better be ready. Federate your email, buy a generator, make sure you’ve got good locks, and for God’s sake, carry a handgun. There are monsters in the streets and some idiot is arming them.

But how to defend against the errors of the masses unwilling to take care of themselves? Every message in my outbox is in some fool’s inbox; plain as day, as if I’d sent it straight to PRISM myself. NSA-proof? Not without a massive shift of collective action undertaken by a society of people who’ve spent the past decade or so dumping as many photos, feelings, and fantasies online as time and bandwidth would allow. Why not? I certainly did. It’s nice to have friends."



"These are, after all, ecological problems. And when you find yourself in a flood zone, or a wildfire warning area, or tornado country, self-reliance only goes so far. No amount of preparation will protect you if you find yourself staring at an onrushing column of smoke and all your neighbours built their houses with kindling. No amount of home renovation will fix the water if, somewhere upriver, some monster with an obligation to protect shareholder interests is filling the streams with mercury.

Even the Unabomber, holed up in his cabin in remotest Montana, couldn’t help but see passenger jets criss-crossing the sky."



"“There’s a second half to the prison’s design and no one seems to remember this. The second half is that the prisoners are isolated from one another. If they could coordinate, those few lonely bastards in the tower wouldn’t stand a chance. But their clients are kept separated and when the hammer comes down on one of them, all the rest can’t help but think ‘at least it wasn’t me’.”

She was close now, uncomfortably so. The urge to flee was overwhelming.

“That’s where the real power of the panopticon lies. It is spread around the circumference in the cell of every inmate. It’s like Disney. ‘Don’t worry little Dumbo, the power of surveillance was in you all along.’

“But how are you advising one another, in the face of our mounting influence? You’re writing Instructables about how to mask your personal digital fingerprint and telling yourselves that our victims had it coming because they didn’t take basic steps.

“So while we’re consolidating our strength, you idiots are all coaching one another into joint construction of solitary confinement.”"



"My hosts found me hours later in the marina’s bar, working my way through the fourth in a series of tall drinks with plenty of ice.

I said nothing about my encounter in the showroom. What was there to tell? That I’d had a conversation with my own paranoid delusions? That the security state had personified itself to lecture me about a french philosopher who’d died in 1984?

No. That was craziness, best left to the memory banks. The security state isn’t a person, it’s people. There’s so many of them and they’ve been given leave to take so many liberties that they’ve managed to become the environment. Like a demented terraforming project, they’re sucking down our communications and we’re breathing their air.

This is an ecological disaster and it demands an ecological response. We shouldn’t be protecting ourselves. We should be protecting each other.

My hosts were in fine spirits. The shopping trip had been a success and the boxes they had in tow carried the promise of excellent reclining. Good reclining is crucial in cottage country."
civics  security  privacy  timmaly  2013  canon  community  activism  collectivism  nsa  edwardsnowden  surveillance  internet  web  online  storytelling  panopticon  indivisualism  self-reliance 
august 2013 by robertogreco
When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto
"Critical pedagogy must reject teaching being subordinated to the dictates of standardization, measurement mania and high stakes testing. The latter are part of a pedagogy of repression and conformity and have nothing to do with an education for empowerment. Central to the call for a critical pedagogy and the formative and institutional culture that makes it possible is the need to reconfigure government spending and to call for less spending on death and war and more on funding for education and the social programs that make it possible as a foundation for a democratic society. Schools are about more than measurable utility, the logic of instrumentality, abject testing, and mind-numbing training. In fact, the latter have little to do with critical education and pedagogy and must be rejected as part of an austerity and neoliberal project that is deeply anti-intellectual, authoritarian, and antidemocratic."



"Under neoliberalism, it has become more difficult to respond to the demands of the social contract, public good, and the social state, which have been pushed to the margins of society - viewed as both an encumbrance and a pathology. And yet such a difficulty must be overcome in the drive to reform public education. The struggle over public education is the most important struggle of the 21st century because it is one of the few public spheres left where questions can be asked, pedagogies developed, modes of agency constructed and desires mobilized, in which formative cultures can be developed that nourish critical thinking, dissent, civic literacy and social movements capable of struggling against those antidemocratic forces that are ushering in dark, savage and dire times. We are seeing glimpses of such a struggle in Chicago and other states as well as across the globe and we can only hope that such movements offer up not merely a new understanding of the relationship among pedagogy, politics, and democracy, but also one that infuses both the imagination and hope for a better world."
henrygiroux  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  2013  manifestos  assessment  inequality  politics  power  democracy  unschooling  deschooling  capitalism  community  noamchomsky  neoliberalism  edreform  education  policy  civics  criticalthinking  dissent  discourse  publiceducation 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Information Consumerism: The Price of Hypocrisy - Überwachung - FAZ
"In as much as the Snowden affair has forced us to confront these issues, it’s been a good thing for democracy. Let’s face it: most of us would rather not think about the ethical implications of smart toothbrushes or the hypocrisy involved in Western rhetoric towards Iran or the genuflection that more and more European leaders show in front of Silicon Valley and its awful, brain-damaging language, the Siliconese. The least we can do is to acknowledge that the crisis is much deeper and that it stems from intellectual causes as much as from legal ones. Information consumerism, like its older sibling energy consumerism, is a much more dangerous threat to democracy than the NSA."
edwardsnowden  2013  evgenymorozov  ethics  technology  nsa  informationconsumerism  consumerism  hypocrisy  piracy  politics  morality  economics  civics  citizenship  markets  capitalism  law  legal  internetofthings  internet  web  freedom  iot 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Born to think and learn | Deborah Meier on Education
"The real “crisis” within schools today is that we are in the process of literally throwing away the carefully constructed ideas that flowed from these (and other) giants’ work. The garden for children (kindergarten) was a late 19h century invention that we are fast abandoning. The ideas behind such “gardens” are not only wise, but critical to imagining that democracy needn’t be utopian—that it’s possible with “ordinary” people who are all really quite extraordinary. Reminder: democracy was “invented” as an answer to “who is accountable.” But “for what” faces each generation anew."
deborahmeier  education  learning  progressiveeducation  democracy  history  accountability  2013  stem  purpose  civics  garystager  seymourpapert  constructivism  kindergarten 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Beyond “The Crisis in Civics” – Notes from my 2013 DML talk | ... My heart’s in Accra
"Rather than concluding that civics is in crisis, it’s worth considering that the practice of civics may be changing shape. We may be used to teaching that is inaccessible and unpersuasive to students at best, and disempowering and conformist at worst. We need to understand the new shapes civics is taking so we can teach people to engage in ways that allow them to effectively assert agency, to bring about the changes, large and small, they want to see in the world."



"With the rise of social media in the 21st century, media has become more personal and less homogenous, leading to concerns that individuals are occupying filter bubbles or echo chambers that make it harder for people to empathize and find common ground with those who hold different opinions. Social media has helped people find micropublics, circles of friends who share an interest or a common history and tend to be highly responsive to each other’s posts, updates and online sharings. People are becoming used to creating “content” of all sorts, and receiving feedback on this content, whether a post about their personal life or their political beliefs."



"If we want civic participation that is thick, impactful and scaleable:

- We need to get beyond distinctions between politics and activism and think about agency – our goal is to help people bring about the change they want to see in the world.

- We can’t just develop new digital tactics – we need to think about levers of change and understand who we’re hoping to impact and why we believe they can help us make change.

- We need to help people climb ladders of engagement while broadening their understanding of issues, so they can build their own ladders for others to climb.

- We need to understand that thick participation at scale means devolving control away from the center and trusting that the people we are inviting into our movements will shape them going forwards."
ethanzuckerman  2013  civics  generations  population  us  participation  engagement  politics  government  socialmedia  change  scale 
july 2013 by robertogreco
What #isamuseum | Sam Durant
"Is a museum a school?
Is a museum political?
Is a museum truthful?
Is a museum fun?
Is a museum for everyone?

Sam Durant, the 2013 Getty Artists Program invitee, is a multimedia artist whose work explores the relationships between politics and culture. His socially engaged practice addresses subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, Southern rock music, and modernism.

For his project, What #isamuseum?, Durant continues to investigate these ideas by engaging Museum visitors and staff in an exploration of the roles and functions of a museum. Through a call-and-response format, visitors discover a series of artist-designed questions placed in unexpected locations throughout the Getty Center. With these questions, Durant invites reflections on and responses to the expectations and preconceptions of what a museum is. Individual responses can be shared on www.isamuseum.org, and visitors can input their answers at an iPad hub site located in the Museum Entrance Hall. Social-media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, and the Getty Voices project, also serve as channels to discuss the questions and broaden the discourse.

According to Durant, "By expanding the conversation and encouraging different forms of response, participants can become active within the project and even change the debate around the initial issue.”"

[See also (tags here are for that too): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQoEP3pPPjg ]
[Via: http://nomadicity.tumblr.com/post/52793583244/http-isamuseum-org-what-isamuseum-hes-asked ]

[Mentioned in the video: Caroline Woolard's Exchange Cafe at MoMA http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1364

here too
http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/sam-durant-social-media-getty-what-isamuseum.html ]
museums  samdurant  art  politics  culture  education  #isamuseum  getty  purpose  2013  googleartproject  pablohelguera  robertsain  lacmalab  sandiego  google  ncm  gettyartistsprogram  tobytannenbaum  jessicacusick  moma  centerforlivingarts  glvo  cv  why  learning  artists  chrisburden  engagement  community  children  children'smuseums  public  exchangecafe  institutions  openstudioproject  lcproject  participation  cocreation  collaboration  participatory  metrics  outcomes  success  civics  schools  future  candychang  civicengagement  law  legal  carolinewoolard  cafes  ncmideas  participatoryart 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Boston Review — Lili Loofbourow: “No to Profit” (Chile, Privatized Education)
[now at: https://bostonreview.net/world/%E2%80%9Cno-profit%E2%80%9D ]

"“The culture of the market that was established in Chile made social inequality ethically and politically tolerable,” Mayol writes. Such a system “guarantees that difference will exist,” in fact, “differentiation is its sign of health.”
We are Chileans of an age in which ideas . . . are ‘bought,’ where ‘to cooperate’ means to be dim or naïve (because to be intelligent is to be selfish), where achieving an object regardless of the means is ‘making it,’ and where being a millionaire is synonymous with a high intellectual capacity.

Thus Chileans became accustomed to a passive role. Their country would react to international demand for goods—mainly the nation’s rich underground resources—and services, and that would be all. Everyone had to adapt, and there was no use complaining about it. The result is that Chileans aren’t even actors in a free market anymore. They’ve instead become another resource Chile can offer to investors: a captive consumer base forced to pay private industry for domestic goods that were once public.

Mayol sees the student movement as the stirring to life of a people that had forgotten it once had the right, and even the responsibility, to complain and to demand. Following the example set by the students, citizens started complaining to the institutions that they felt were behaving abusively. In 2010 there were 9,010 complaints against rising health care costs. In 2011 that figure was 25,767. There was no substantive change in health care; what changed, Mayol says, was the public’s consciousness. Suddenly there was hope that complaints might not be futile after all."
chile  economics  neoliberalism  2013  education  healthcare  markets  albertomayol  ricardolagos  sebastiánpiñera  universities  highereducation  highered  debt  consumerism  citizenship  civics  passivity  freemarket  responsibility  society  lililoofbourow 
may 2013 by robertogreco
« earlier      
per page:    204080120160